Commission and Morocco debate future of fisheries agreement
Brussels, 9 Nov (EFE). – Representatives of the European Commission and Morocco are meeting in Brussels to discuss the futre of the current fisheries agreement and the possibilities for renewal, EU sources informed Efe.
Unofficial translation by Western Sahara Resource Watch Source: ABC
Europeans and Moroccans will analyse the difficulties and differences regarding a renewal of the agreement, which will include the issue of Western Sahara since Brussels has asked Rabat months ago to prove how the current agreement benefits the Saharawi population.
The meeting is “technical” and is a continuation of the meeting between the European Commissioner for Fisheries, Maria Damanaki and the Moroccan Minister for Fisheries, Aziz Akhanouch, last October. The objective is to analyse the perspectives of the agreement, sources indicate.
The previous meeting between Damanaki and the Moroccan Minister ended without a timetable. Though the agreement expires within a few months, in March 2011, there was no decision whether or not to renew it.
Sources say it is still “too early” to predict the outcome of the contacts and today’s meeting.
Damanaki’s position until now has been that the Moroccan authorities need to proof that the agreement and the compensation received by Rabat adequatly benefits the Saharawi people.
At the time, the European Commission insisted that this position “is not a political attitude”, but that the demands ”are legal requirements that need to be fulfilled” in order to prolong the agreement.
This agreement is considered the EU’s politically most important fisheries commitment and offers licenses to 119 European vessels – 100 out of which are Spanish.
In compensation, the EU pays an annual 36.1 million euros to Morocco, a part of this is earmarked for the national fisheries sector and another for development measures.
If Brussels and Rabat have not managed to sign a pact by February, the current agreement will expire and the EU fleet will have to leave the Moroccan waters, as was the case between 1999 and 2007 when there was no agreement in place.
Several MEPs, such as Spanish Raul Romeva (Greens), have requested that the agreement exclude Saharawi waters. Furthermore, the lawyers of the European Parliament (EP) have drafted a legal opinion, stating that the agreement did not respect international law because it does not properly affect the people of Western Sahara . EFE
The EU considers to pay Morocco to fish in occupied Western Sahara. An EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement from 2013 would be both politically controversial and in violation of international law.
The international Fish Elsewhere! campaign demands the EU to avoid such unethical operations, and go fishing somewhere else. No fishing in Western Sahara should take place until the conflict is solved.