EU-Morocco agreement to enter into force

16 Jul 2014
Fishing boats in Essaouira, Morocco. Credit: Daniel*D/CC BY-SA 3.0

Fishing boats in Essaouira, Morocco. Credit: Daniel*D/CC BY-SA 3.0

The European Commission has welcomed Morocco’s ratification of a Fisheries Protocol which is set to open the door for European vessels to begin fishing in Moroccan waters again for the first time in more than two years.

The European Union and Morocco had concluded the four-year fisheries deal in December 2013, however its entry into force was pending ratification by Morocco. Now that both sides have concluded their ratification procedure, EU vessels will receive certain fishing rights in Moroccan waters in return for financial assistance by the EU to develop the Moroccan fishery sector.

European 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 sectoral support.”

Up to 120 vessels from 11 EU countries (Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Netherlands, Ireland, Poland and United Kingdom) are concerned by the new protocol. The fishing possibilities have been increased by a third compared to the previous protocol and will now total 80,000 tonnes for small pelagic species with further fishing opportunities available for demersal, tuna and artisanal fisheries. In total, six fishing categories exploited by both industrial and small-scale fleet segments are covered by the protocol.

The cost for the EU taxpayer for accessing these increased possibilities has decreased by 30% compared to the former protocol. The total cost to the EU will be €30 million a year, of which €16 million compensates Morocco for access to the resource and €14 million is directed towards supporting the fisheries sector in the country. In addition, the ship owners' contribution is estimated at €10 million, giving a total financial envelope for Morocco of an estimated €40 million, whilst the new Protocol also provides for increased job opportunities for Moroccan fishermen.

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