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Commissioner Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, ensures the agreement achieved represents a good quality-price relation. (Photo: Comisión Europea)

Morocco to receive EUR 40 million per year for new EU Agreement

Thursday, July 25, 2013, 01:10 (GMT + 9)

On Wednesday the Moroccan government and the EU executive signed a new 4-year fisheries agreement in Rabat, which will allow 126 European boats to fish, most of them from Spain.

This bilateral agreement, which includes six fishing categories exploited at the industrial level as well as artisanal fleet segments, will not take effect immediately, as it still must receive the approval of the European Parliament.

The new agreement will cost the European Union (EU) about EUR 40 million a year as compensation for access to fisheries resources in Morocco. Out of this amount, an estimated EUR 10 million will be paid by the Spanish ship owners.

The pact was signed by the Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, and the Moroccan Fisheries Minister, Aziz Akhannouch.

"This is an important moment for EU and Moroccan fisheries," Commissioner Damanaki stated.

And she added: “This deal will ensure a sustainable future for the sector locally and it represents good value for money. The new protocol is in line with the principles of the reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy, by ensuring responsible international fisheries governance."

The Moroccan fishing grounds have been closed for the European fishing fleet for over a year and a half, after the implementation term of the previous bilateral fishing pact came to an end.

In December 2011, the European Parliament voted against the extension of the agreement signed between the two parties, which expired in February 2012.

The EP considered that it caused the overexploitation of some species and that it was illegal under International Law because it interfered with the resources of the local population of Western Sahara, the area the fishery waters belong to.

The Spanish Fisheries Confederation (Cepesca) welcomed the new agreement with Morocco as it will allow about one hundred Spanish ships to return to Moroccan waters.

According to the secretary general of the organization, Javier Garat, the result of the pact is "generally satisfactory except for deep-sea trawling mode, since it introduces important technical improvements in some categories that will optimize their use, especially in Category 1 (artisanal purse seine) and 2 (artisanal bottom longline)."

"Especially these last two modes have been expecting to be able to return to the fishing grounds for a year and a half and to be able to earn a living from fishing. The agreement will represent an economic boost to ports like that of Barbate, Conil or Algeciras," the leader added.

But Cepesca regretted that the conditions placed on the deep-sea trawling mode will prevent the cephalopod fleet from having access to it.

"The ban on cephalopods and crustaceans by-catches, and the number of compulsory Moroccan crew members finally included in this category will make it virtually impossible to use it despite the improvements achieved," pointed out the organization in a press release.

Cepesca also regretted the fact that in Category 5 tuna freezing seiners have not been included and it does not understand the reasons why it has not been so, since it is a well regulated fishery by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and does not present management issues.

Under the new agreement, in Category 1, 20 Spanish artisanal purse seiners will be able to once more fish in Barbate to capture anchovy, sardine and other small pelagic specimens.

It was also possible to extend the fishing area southwards, up to latitude 33° 25' N for five vessels simultaneously and on a rotation basis.

Meanwhile, the licenses for category 2 -- bottom longline artisanal vessels mainly from Algeciras, Conil and Barbate – have increased to five units, changing from 35 licenses (25 for Spain), of which only four may operate in the south, up to parallel 33° 25' N.

Related article:

- Morocco and the EU resume negotiations of new fisheries agreement

By Analia Murias
[email protected]

Photo Courtesy of FIS Member  European Commission - Fisheries and Maritime Affairs

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