More fish for more money - that seems to be the gist of the new EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement
More and more information is emerging about the content of the new EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement, after the EU Commission and the Moroccan Government initialed the negotiated text yesterday in Rabat.
El País today reports that the EU will pay Morocco around €52 million per year - which is up from 40 million previously. The bulk of that financial compensation, €40 million, will be taxpayers' money, the remainder to be paid by the vessel owners obtaining a license from the Moroccan government.
In return, Morocco is offering an increased number of fishing licenses to the EU fleet: 128 vessels - including 92 from Spain - are up for receiving permits to fish.
Additionally, Morocco has offered a higher quota of small pelagics - which are fished exclusively in occupied Western Sahara.
"Morocco is doing profitable business: selling higher quantities of fish stocks which do not belong to it, for an ever higher price. And the EU Commission is going along with it. This is both an offence to the people of Western Sahara, whose stocks are being depleted without their consent, and to the EU taxpayer, who will need to cough up more money for this unacceptable practice", says Sara Eyckmans of Western Sahara Resource Watch.
The proposed deal still has to be ratified by both the Moroccan and EU legislative institutions. On European side, both the Member States and the EU Parliament have to vote in favour of the text.
Spanish Minister for Fisheries, Luis Planas, has already called upon the Spanish political parties to press their EU representatives to work for a quick approval of the deal. Spain, which has never formally decolonised Western Sahara in line with international law, stands to benefit most from the agreement
The former Legal Counsel to the UN Security Counsel, Mr. Hans Corell, comments on the EU's fisheries activities in Western Sahara.
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The UK Court has concluded that the UK government has acted unlawfully in granting preferential tariff treatment to products from Western Sahara through a deal with Morocco, and in granting fisheries quota's for fishing in Western Sahara under a fish deal with Morocco.