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MEP Carmen Fraga. (Photo: EPP Group)

EP approves fisheries protocol with Morocco

EUROPEAN UNION
Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 23:30 (GMT + 9)

The European Parliament (EP) today approved the EU-Morocco fishing protocol, which will allow 126 vessels from 11 Member States to fish in Moroccan waters.

The new protocol increases the fishing chances for the EU fleet and sets the compensation under the responsibility of the EU budget in EUR 30 million per year, of which Morocco will allocate EUR 14 million to support the development of the fisheries sector.

MEPs approved the new protocol by 310 votes to 204, with 49 abstentions.

"This is an excellent deal for both sides, which fulfils all the conditions requested by the European Parliament in its 2011 resolution, by ensuring both environmental sustainability and a proper return for the EU budget contribution," said rapporteur Carmen Fraga Estévez (EPP, ES).

The new protocol increases the fishing opportunities by 33 per cent, mainly due to increased industrial pelagic fishing (from 60,000 to 80,000 tonnes). The total number of EU vessels that will fish in Moroccan waters is 126, of which around a hundred will correspond to Spain. The above protocol provided for a total of 137 EU vessels.

Regarding the shipment of sailors, the main novelty is that it is mandatory to choose from a closed list proposed by Morocco, comprising graduates of maritime training schools.

The EU will reduce the financial contribution to Morocco by 17 per cent: it will pay EUR 30 million a year, instead of EUR 36.1 million per year set in the previous protocol.

However, the total annual cost of the protocol increases by 1 per cent, changing from EUR 39.5 million per year to EUR 40 million due to the 194 per cent increase of the shipowners’ contribution.

Moreover, the protocol states that any incompliance incurred by Morocco as to its obligation to respect human rights could involve suspension.

In December 2011, the European Parliament rejected the one-year extension of the previous fisheries protocol with Morocco, which had ended on 27 February, 2011. After the ban, the extension stopped being implemented on 14 December 2011. The European Commission then began to negotiate a new protocol.

The Council intends to proceed with the formal adoption of the protocol on 16 December.

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