June 2, 2023

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Mohamed Siddiqui said Morocco would start negotiations to extend the fisheries agreement with the European Union on a new basis, without disclosing the rationale for the new approach, but he said the outcome of the extension of the agreement, which ends this year, is not clear so far. since.

The EU-Morocco fishing agreement protocol expires on July 17, when more than 120 European vessels will be required to leave the Moroccan coast while the European Commission looks for new alternatives.

“All technical meetings between Morocco and the European Union are held on an ongoing basis,” the agriculture minister said on Wednesday at the forum of the Arab News Agency of the Maghreb. We are ready for any development of events.”

My friend stated that “the fishing sector in Morocco has important opportunities for export and appreciation”, stressing that Morocco will negotiate on a different basis based on existing qualifications, which is a confirmation of the position of strength with which it is negotiating in this regard. .

The partnership between the European Union and Morocco in the field of marine fisheries has been in existence for over 30 years through a series of bilateral agreements and implementing protocols concluded since 1988, with the last extension in 2019 until the summer of 2019. this year.

The agreement, which is currently in place, allows approximately 128 European vessels to enter Moroccan waters in the Atlantic Ocean to fish for some of the available surplus in exchange for financial compensation of around 208 million euros (2.3 billion dirhams) over four months. years. It also obliges the federation to contribute to the financing of marine fisheries management and its local development.

According to the agreement, the quota system applies when it comes to coastal fishing, as the quota reaches one hundred thousand tons per year for some types of fish, and requires Moroccan sailors to board European Union vessels (2 to 6 sailors). per ship) and land a percentage of the amount caught in Moroccan ports (between 25 and 30 percent).

The current fisheries agreement is only a few months apart and whether or not it can be extended remains in question for the countries that benefit from it, recalling the European Court of Justice’s decision at the end of September 2021 to freeze trade. agreements concluded between the European Union and Morocco that include agricultural and fish products, claiming that they took place without the consent of the inhabitants of the “disputed territory”, i.e. the Moroccan Sahara.

In this context, European Union spokesman Peter Stano explained in a previous statement to Hespress that “The General Court of the European Union annulled the decision of the Council to approve the conclusion of a fisheries partnership agreement between the European Union and Morocco and its protocol; But it remained in force until the European Court of Justice ruled on the appeals brought by the Council and the Commission against the decision of the General Court.

Stano indicated that “pending the decision of the European Court of Justice, the implementation of the current protocol may continue until its expiration date on 17 July 2023”, showing that “the Commission is implementing the agreement in close cooperation with the member states of the European Union and the partner country.”

The same European official confirmed in a statement to Hespress that “in parallel with full compliance with current procedures at the European Court of Justice, ideas have begun to crystallize to move forward a new partnership”, but did not provide more details on the issue, which mainly concerns Spain, because most of the ships who fish under the Spanish treaty.

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