Morocco will move to consolidate its authority over the kingdom’s naval territory.
Rabat – The House of Representatives voted today, January 22, to enact two laws that will allow Morocco to define its maritime boundaries and establish an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The laws are based on the UN Law of the Sea Convention that Morocco signed on December 10, 1982, and ratified on May 31, 2007.
The document sets the limits of maritime borders (12 nautical miles), straits, and exclusive economic zones (200 nautical miles). In the event of overlap, neighboring states must enter into dialogue or negotiation.
The draft laws ignited debate in Spain after Morocco’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, Islamic Affairs and Moroccans residing abroad at the House of Representatives approved them on December 16.
On December 21, 2019, Spain’s ruling Socialist Party rejected the bills, arguing the demarcation of Morocco’s maritime boundaries should occur within the framework of a joint agreement with Spain.
Spain views the bills as an encroachment on Spanish sovereignty, due to Spain’s ownership of the Canary Islands, 100 kilometers west of Morocco’s southern Atlantic coast.
“Spain will not allow Morocco to touch a single mile of Canary waters,” President of the Canary Islands Angel Torres stated.
Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita, however, has maintained that Morocco has “a sovereign right” to redefine its maritime boundaries.
“There is no misunderstanding. Morocco has its sovereign rights and does not seek to go beyond its rights,” the minister affirmed on December 27, 2019.
The development comes only two days before Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Arancha Gonzalez Laya is scheduled to visit Morocco. She is expected this Friday, January 24.