EU commissioner Maria Damaki confirmed the re-start of discussions about the new fishing pact with Morocco. (Photo: EC/FIS)
Brussels seeks new fisheries pact with Morocco
Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 23:00 (GMT + 9)
The European Commission (EC) resumed formal negotiations with the Moroccan government to try and sign a new fishing agreement to replace the one that was vetoed by the European Parliament (EP) on 14 December last year.
The main objective of Brussels is that under the new agreement the EU fleet can fish in the waters of the African country again, which it had to abandon in late 2011.
In February, all the countries of the European Union (EU) approved to formally authorize the Community Commissioner for Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, to renew contacts with Morocco to sign a new bilateral pact.
Damanaki, who last weekend travelled to Rabat, in a statement confirmed "the beginning of exploratory talks" to sign a fisheries agreement.
"The EC considers Morocco is a key partner, not only in the Mediterranean, but also in general," said the commissioner.
To Damanaki, it was a "very good" beginning of negotiations, the agency Europa Press reported.
The idea is that the new agreement "respects environmental sustainability, benefits both parties and is in line with international law," added the European Commissioner.
Furthermore, she stated: "For the EU and Morocco, the cooperation is not a choice but a necessity. We have to cooperate if we are to manage fisheries resources effectively."
Several nations, such as the UK and the Netherlands, claimed that the future pact should refer to Western Sahara, but eventually the pressure from Spain and France to avoid any expressed mention prevailed.
For Spain, this agreement is absolutely relevant because Morocco is a strategic partner of the EU and due to the fisheries resources its fleet catches in its fishing grounds.
The previous agreement stated a compensation for Morocco that amounted to EUR 36.1 million per year as well as training programmes for seamen and fisheries research schemes funded by the EU, reported EFE agency.
Meanwhile, the 661 Spanish crew members affected by the stoppage of the bilateral fisheries agreement will receive EUR 45 a day for six months, from 14 December, 2011.
Besides, the owners of the 69 vessels affected will be compensated with EUR 100 per day, said the Spanish government.
- EU members support negotiation of fisheries agreement with Morocco
By Analia Murias