New Morocco agreement benefits European fleet

By

Pilar Caride, SeafoodSourcecontributing editor, reporting from Vigo, Spain

Published on
July 28, 2014

The European fishing sector will go back to work again in Moroccan waters thanks to the sanction, on part of Moroccan King Mohamed VI, of a new fishing agreement with the EU that has been in the works since last year.

In July 2013, the EU and Morocco had negotiated a new fishing protocol to replace the agreement that expired in 2011. The European Parliament accepted the new agreement, and it was ratified by the Council of Ministers at the end of 2013.

The new agreement affects 120 vessels from 11 EU countries. The fishing possibilities have been increased by a third in comparison with the previous protocol, now offering 80,000 tons of small pelagic species with further fishing opportunities available for demersal, tuna and artisanal fisheries.

The new agreement will reopen the Moroccan waters to nearly a hundred Spanish vessels — 37 from Canary Islands, 44 from Andalusia and 16 from Galicia.

Manuel Peinado, president of the Andalusian Federation of Fishermen Guilds, spoke to SeafoodSource about the agreement. “The valuation is positive. It was a bit later, but better late than never.” He said the guilds are waiting for a meeting of the mixed committee to close some details and for pertinent instructions from the Spanish Secretary General of Fish. As to when he estimates Spanish vessels can resume fishing in Moroccan waters, he said that “I think that at the beginning of September it should be ready, and the fleet should be in the fishing ground with their respective fishing licenses.”

According to the European Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, “The total cost to the EU of this agreement will be EUR 30 million (USD 40.38 million) a year, of which EUR 16 million (USD 21.53 million) will compensate Morocco for access to the resource and EUR 14 million (USD 18.84 million) will be directed towards supporting the fisheries sector in the country. In addition, the ship owners' contribution is estimated at EUR 10 million (USD 13.46 million), giving a total financial envelope for Morocco of an estimated EUR 40 million (USD 53.84 million), while the new protocol also provides for increased job opportunities for Moroccan fishermen.” The protocol also includes a human rights clause.

Manuel Peinado is very prudent at the moment when valuing the agreement’s economic benefit for the fleet. “We hope and wish that the situation will be good. The sector has a lot of expectations regarding the profitability of the agreement, that on the other hand, it isn’t cheap, because it is estimated 40 million euros for the EU, of which a 10 percent it is necessary to pay through fishing licenses from ship owners’ companies which will go to fish, and well, it will be necessary to value the costs and profitability that (the agreement will) have in the future."

Spanish and European administration welcomed the agreement. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki said: "I am glad that this protocol can finally enter into force. Our fishermen have been waiting for this day for more than two years. Now we need to make sure that our fleet can resume its activities as soon as possible. This new protocol is an example for responsible international fisheries governance. We made sure that the EU’s fishing rights do not exceed the scientifically sound limit that ensures sustainable fisheries, and that European vessels do not compete with local fishermen. I am confident that the EU’s financial support will help build a sustainable future for Moroccan fisheries through the targeted sectorial support.”

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