EU set to order cessation of fishing in Moroccan waters

The European Commissioner for Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, is expected tomorrow to request that all EU vessels, most of which are Spanish, cease fishing activities in Moroccan waters.

The EU has voted to cease the agreement made with Morocco relating to fishing concessions until the Moroccan government agrees to better terms in a number of areas. The current agreement was provisionally extended in February of this year but now looks set to be stopped.

The EU pays the Moroccan government €36.1 million per year for 119 fishing licenses in Moroccan territorial waters, with around 100 of these being taken by Spanish ships from Andalucia and the Canary Islands.

The environmental impact of the agreement, low financial return and concerns about human rights in Western Sahara had delayed agreeing a new protocol although vessels have continued to fish the Moroccan waters under a provisional agreement made in February 2011.

The EU will continue to work towards a new agreement with Morocco but will require more convincing answers from Rabat on issues such as environmental sustainability, economic efficiency and adherence to international law.

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