A new agreement for legal, environmental, economic and social governance of fishing activities carried out by EU vessels in Morocco was approved by the Fisheries Committee.
MEPs agreed to extend the geographical scope of this agreement to the territory of Western Sahara, taking into account the conclusions by the EU Court of Justice on this matter.
To this aim, they:
- explicitly stated that the fishing zones are ‘the waters of the Eastern Central Atlantic Ocean between the parallels 35° 47’ 18'' north and 20° 46’ 13'' north, including the adjacent waters of Western Sahara;
- assessed that the agreement is beneficial to local people in this region: there are 141 companies processing fisheries products in these conurbations, employing approximately 90.000 people directly or indirectly, the estimated turnover of the fisheries processing business is approximately EUR 450 million, of which exports – 60% of them to the EU (approximately EUR 240 million);
- stressed the results of the consultation process carried out by the European External Action Service and the Commission, in which most of the people consulted were in favour of a new fisheries agreement, while they also pointed out that the Polisario Front did not wish to take part in the consultation, because they were opposed the agreement in principle.
The deal aims at promoting sustainable fishing policy, allowing EU vessels to catch only the allowable catch surplus referred in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA):
- enables the EU and Morocco to work together more closely on promoting a sustainable fisheries policy;
- supports Morocco’s efforts to develop the fisheries sector and a blue economy;
- does not prejudice the outcome of the political process on the final status of Western Sahara taking place under the auspices of the United Nations;
- fully supports the efforts of the UN in achieving political solution which will allow the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.
The total annual value of the fishing opportunities set in a protocol attached to the agreement is estimated at 153.6 million euros. 48.1 million for the first year, 50.4 for the second and 55.1 for the last two years.
A joint committee will be set up to monitor the application of this agreement and they may amend the protocol.
The legislative text was adopted with 17 votes in favour, 7 against and 2 abstention. The vote on the agreement in the plenary of the European Parliament will be held in February.
This agreement may be applied on a provisional basis from the date of signature authorised by the EU Council. While the agreement will remain in force for an indefinite period, the protocol, which sets the fishing opportunities, will be applied for four years.
The last protocol with the Kingdom of Morocco expired on 14 July 2018. The new protocol gives EU vessels access to the waters covered by the agreement and the protocol in force, and to the adjacent waters of the non-autonomous territory of Western Sahara.
The SFPA is part of a broader relationship under the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing and association between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco. It strengthens the bilateral relations and establishes a dialogue on fisheries governance