By Tabora Bojang
The Minister of Fisheries, James Gomez, has said his ministry will not be tabling the Senegal-Gambia fishing agreement signed in 2017 before the National Assembly because it expired since March 2021.
The agreement signed during President Adama Barrow’s first presidential visit to Senegal in 2017, was last week declared illegal since it was not ratified by parliament.
Deputies had urged Minister Gomez to urgently table the deal before the National Assembly for ratification.
But responding to The Standard on how soon government intends to table the agreement as requested by the parliamnetarians, Minister Gomez explained that there will be no presentation before the National Assembly of the 2017 agreement because “it has already expired” on 24 March 2021.
“They [National Assembly Members] cannot sit over an agreement that is already expired. But now that they have indicated to us that every agreement should go to them before becoming effective, we are now engaged in discussions to evaluate the positives and the negatives in the first agreement and then we will come to sign a new agreement and once that is signed, it will be taken to parliament,” Minister Gomez explained.
Asked if the expiration means all fishing activities ongoing under the deal have ceased, the minister responded that he is using his “discretionary powers” provided by the law to allow people fish in Gambian waters.
“The minister has the powers to allow people to fish or not to fish in our waters when there is no agreement,” he added.
The minister reiterated that when this agreement was signed there was no parliament and it was not a new thing because the first fishing agreement between the countries was signed in 1982 and has been renewed through mutual agreement and never subjected to parliamentary ratification.