Brussels Proposes Amendment to EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement with Extension to Sahara

The European Commission adopted on Wednesday a proposal for a Council decision to authorize it to negotiate with Morocco an amendment to the current Fisheries Partnership Agreement and a renewed protocol that includes the Sahara.

“The objective is to preserve and further develop the fisheries partnership between the EU and Morocco, by concluding an agreement and protocol that are environmentally sustainable, economically profitable and fully in line with international and EU law,” the European Commission said in a release.

The EU proposal includes extension of the bilateral agreement with Morocco to the Moroccan Sahara.

Morocco is a close partner of the EU that benefits from the ‘advanced status’ in the context of the Union’s neighborhood policy and the EU – Morocco Association Agreement, said the Commission in the release.

The Commission believes that the proposed amended agreement and the renewed protocol would help strengthen monitoring, control and surveillance and contribute to improved governance of the fisheries in the region.

In addition, the Commission noted in the release, the initiatives will be beneficial for Morocco, in particular in view of the importance of the financial contribution to be paid under the Protocol as a contribution to the Moroccan “Halieutis” strategy on the development of the fisheries sector.

EU operators, including artisanal vessels, from several Member States are expected to benefit from the fishing opportunities made available through the amended agreement and the renewed protocol, the Commission argued.

The European Commission had commissioned last year an audit report on the Morocco-EU fisheries accord that 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 this year, as it stands as an instrument of in-depth cooperation with the North African Kingdom.

The European Union had voiced appreciation for the conclusions of the retrospective and prospective evaluation report, which highlights the socio-economic benefits of the fisheries agreement with Morocco and which considers that the agreement has proved “effective in achieving its sustainable exploitation objective”.

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