Despite Polisario’s attempts to hamper the fisheries deal, Morocco and the European Union signed the agreement.
Rabat – Morocco and the European Union signed the fisheries agreement today in Brussels. The agreement, which replaces one that expired in July 2018, sets out the conditions of access for EU vessels in Moroccan waters and lays down requirements for sustainable fishing.
Permanent Representative of Romania to the EU Luminita Teodora Odobescu signed the agreement in Brussels today in her role as head of the EU presidency for Romania and on behalf of Joao Aguiar Machado, the director general of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Maritime Affairs.
Moroccan Secretary-General of the Maritime Fisheries Department Zakia Driouch also attended the signing ceremony of the agreement, according to Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).
The agreement covers the fishing area from parallel 35 to parallel 22, from Cap Spartel in northern Morocco to Cap Blanc in southern Morocco, including the waters off Western Sahara.
The agreement specifies the fishing areas and access conditions for EU vessels, increasing the EU’s financial contribution from the previous agreement’s annual average of €40.0 million to €52.2 million.
The deal also contains provisions that aim to maximize benefits for local populations in nearby areas.
The agreement follows several months of negotiations between the EU’s departments.
In 2018, the European Council urged that the scope of the fisheries deal between the two parties be “defined so as to include the waters adjacent to the territory of Western Sahara” in southern Morocco.
Responding to Polisario’s claims that Morocco “exploits” the resources of the region, locals from Western Sahara petitioned for the renewal of both agriculture and fisheries agreements.
The petition, launched by Sahrawis, explained Morocco’s increased efforts to develop the southern provinces.
After the fisheries deal, Morocco and the EU are also set to renew their agriculture agreement. Several EU departments, including the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, adopted the EU-Morocco agriculture deal.