New Morocco-EU Fisheries Agreements Initialled in Rabat
A new fisheries agreement between Morocco and the European Union (EU) was initialled Tuesday in Rabat following negotiations that started a few months ago.
The two sides agreed on the content of the new sustainable fisheries agreement and its implementation protocol, the ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development, Waters and Forests announced in a release.
This text specifies the fishing zones and access conditions for European vessels.
The level of compulsory landings and fishing categories remain unchanged compared to the former agreement, while the number of vessels concerned by the new agreement would reach 128, the statement said.
This agreement will also increase the financial envelope for Morocco from 40 million Euros a year to 52.2 million Euros (+ 30%), it added.
The two sides also agreed on the implementation of improvement measures to increase benefits for the local populations in the concerned areas, the source pointed out, adding that these populations will benefit from the socio-economic advantages of the agreement, including in terms of infrastructure, basic social services, enterprise creation, vocational training, development projects and modernization of the fishing sector.
The number of Moroccan sailors aboard European fishing vessels will also increase, the source said.
To increase the socio-economic impacts on these regions, the agreement maintains a compulsory landing volume with an increase of penalties to 15% instead of 5% in case of non-compliance with these landings requirements.
According to the same source, several technical requirements have been included in the new agreement in order to preserve the sustainability of fisheries resources and protect the marine environment, such as a review of catches of small pelagics in the south.
In order to preserve some species, octopus and shrimps are not included in the agreement, which covers the geographical area from Cape Spartel to Cape Blanc while excluding the Mediterranean Sea in order to preserve its resources which are overexploited.
The fisheries monitoring and control system was also strengthened by making the presence of observers compulsory for some categories that were not provided for in the former agreement, the statement said.
In a statement to the press after the initialing ceremony of this agreement, in the presence of Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development and Waters and Forests Aziz Akhannouch, Bourita stressed that the initialling of the Morocco-EU fisheries agreement is the crowning of a process of talks, which lasted seven rounds and spanned three months, in Brussels and Rabat, under normal conditions marked by consensus between Morocco and the EU.
Bourita added that this initialing gives concrete substance to the achievement of three objectives, the first of which is aimed at strengthening the partnership between Morocco and the EU in the field of fisheries, a partnership that goes back to over 30 years and which is based on several previously concluded agreements.
The second goal is to respond to maneuvers and attempts to disrupt this partnership and to question the inclusion of the Moroccan Sahara in this agreement, he said, noting that “the answer is clear, since Article 1 of this agreement stipulates that the fishing area extends from parallel 35 to parallel 22, meaning from Cape Spartel in northern Morocco to Cap Blanc in the south.”
This article also says that the fishing zone includes waters in the Sahara region, noted the minister, underlining that Morocco cannot, in any case, ratify an agreement that does not cover all of its territory.
The third objective of this agreement is to strengthen the fisheries sector, mainly in the southern areas and zones covered by the said agreement, through job creation, supporting the sector locally and contributing to socio-economic development, Bourita said.
The agreement also aims to ensure the sustainability of sea products in the region, through a number of mechanisms to fight the over-exploitation of fisheries resources in this area, he said.
Bourita pointed out that after the initialling of the Morocco-EU fisheries agreement “the process is still long”, stating that the agreement must then be submitted to the legislative procedure at both the Moroccan and European level, a fact that requires the same mobilization and the same action, with the same spirit of consensus and the same positive approach which marked the negotiations.
The minister said that this mobilization, which was diplomatic until now, must also be political, calling on political stakeholders to back up the next steps.
The new agreement specifies, among other things, the fishing zones and the access conditions for the European fleet, through the accurate definition of fishing zones and management zones according to the fleet categories and target species.
According to the modalities provided for in this new generation agreement, the level of compulsory unloading and fishing categories remain unchanged compared to the old agreement, with a number of vessels reaching 128.
This agreement will also increase the financial contribution from an annual average of 40 mln euros to 52.2 (+ 30%).