DAKAR (Reuters) - The European Union said a new agreement with Senegal that limits the amount of tuna and black hake that EU vessels can catch there was a good deal for the country, in the face of criticism from local fishermen who said their rights were being ignored.
Senegal is seeking to crack down on illegal fishing in its waters while preserving government earnings from the sector which accounts for more than 10 percent of exports.
The deal between the European Union and the West African nation, agreed last month, caps the amount of tuna that EU vessels can catch in Senegalese waters at 14,000 tonnes a year and black hake at 2,000 tonnes.
In exchange, the bloc will pay Senegal 2.8 million euros (2.25 million pounds) in annual compensation.
"In terms of financial compensation, this is very good for Senegal," Dominique Dellicour, head EU representative in Dakar, told reporters on Thursday.
She said that the 14 million euros pledged over five years was among the highest compensation of all the global tuna agreements signed by the bloc. The agreement also includes provisions to help Senegal develop policy on scientific research and its fishing industry, she added.
In the past, the EU and Senegal had a framework agreement on fishing but there was no limit on tonnage.
However, Gaipes - a group representing Senegalese fisherman - criticised the deal and said it and other trade bodies had not been included in the negotiations.
"We are selling off our resources and it amounts to a recolonisation by the EU in the fishing sector," Gaipes vice-president Adama Lam said on Friday.
"Senegalese who want to fish tuna are refused permits and yet we give them to European vessels," he added.
About 17,000 light Senegalese canoes, known as pirogues, are involved in the fishing sector in the country.
The EU said that its fishing vessels typically targeted tuna species which were abundant in the Atlantic and whose shoals were beyond the reach of local boats.
In January, Senegal seized two Russian trawlers fishing illegally in its waters and fined the owners 600 million CFA francs ($1.25 million).
(Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Pravin Char)