Moroccan-Spanish Joint Committee Backs Renewal of Morocco-EU Fisheries Deal

The joint committee of Moroccan and Spanish fisheries professionals expressed their strong support for a renewal of the Morocco-EU fisheries deal.

“The deal provides for the respect of international law and human rights,” said the Spanish Federation for Fisheries (CEPESCA) in a statement following a meeting of the joint committee.

The support of the joint committee marks an outspoken rejection of the non-binding opinion by European Court of Justice (ECJ) advisor Melchior Wathelet who called for invalidating the fisheries agreement, claiming that the deal “violates the rights of people from Western Sahara.”

The Moroccan-Spanish joint committee also expressed surprise at Wathelet’s politically motivated stand regarding the fisheries agreement, while voicing hope that the decision of the ECJ will not be affected by such a non-binding opinion.

Earlier this month, The European Commission asked the European Council for a mandate to start negotiations with Morocco on the deal, which enabled, since 2013, 120 vessels from 11 EU countries to fish off Moroccan coasts.

The 2013 deal costs the EU some €40 million annually in terms of access, support to the Moroccan fishery sector, and ship-owners fees.

In December 2017, the audit report on the Morocco-EU fisheries accord, commissioned by the European Commission, concluded that the agreement has worked satisfactorily and that 75% of its socio-economic impacts benefit the Moroccan southern regions. The report recommended the renewal of this agreement, which will expire in July 2018 as it stands as an instrument of in-depth cooperation with the North African Kingdom.

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