EU wants ‘continuity’ of fisheries partnership with Morocco -statement

The European Union said on Thursday it wants to ensure the continuity and sustainability of its fisheries partnership with Morocco.

This came in a joint statement with Morocco sent to Reuters by the African kingdom’s foreign ministry, following an assessment in Brussels of the four-year fisheries protocol by the two parties.

The General Court of the European Union in 2021 annulled EU-Morocco trade deals covering farm products and fish because they were agreed to without the consent of the people of Western Sahara.

Morocco regards Western Sahara as its own, while Algeria-backed Polisario rebels have sought to establish an independent state there.

The European Commission appealed the ruling after it issued a joint statement with Morocco saying they would act to ensure continuity of bilateral trade.

A final decision has not yet been made and the fisheries deal expires on Monday.

The EU reaffirmed in the statement “the utmost importance it gives to its fisheries partnership with the Kingdom of Morocco and the high interest it has in its continuity.”

The two parties referred to the “positive” impact of the deal on the local fisheries sector, according to the statement. They did not mention the ongoing judicial process.

They will continue scientific cooperation to ensure sustainability of resources, they said.

Morocco’s foreign minister, Nasser Bourita, said on Wednesday that the government was assessing the protocol prioritizing its own fishing strategy and biological factors.

Morocco wants “partnerships with stronger added value” instead of “resources in return for financial aid,” he said.

Under this deal the EU contributes 208 million euros ($233.42 million) over four years.

Most of the 128 fishing vessels operating in Morocco-controlled waters under the deal are from Spain.

Morocco’s fisheries exports rose 13% to $2.8 billion in 2022, according to official data.

Source: Reuters