The Council of Ministers of the European Union (EU), meeting in Brussels on Monday 4 March, adopted the decision on the conclusion of the partnership agreement in the field of sustainable fisheries with Morocco, its implementation protocol and the exchange of letters accompanying it, paving the way for its entry into force.
This adoption follows the approval given by the European Parliament on 12 February and, from a formal point of view, marks the final stage of validation and ratification on the European side.
The agreement, which covers the fishing zone stretching from Cape Spartel in the north to Cape Blanc, south of the city of Dakhla, will then have to be ratified and adopted by the Moroccan executive and legislative bodies.
According to a statement from the EU Council, the four-year protocol implementing this agreement allocates fishing opportunities to the EU in exchange for a financial contribution totaling € 208 million.
A large part of this counterpart, says the same source, will serve to promote the sustainable development of the fishing economy in Morocco, including in the southern provinces of the Kingdom.
In its decision, the EU Council notes that the objective of the agreement is to enable the EU and Morocco to work more closely together to promote a sustainable fisheries policy, the responsible exploitation of fisheries resources in the fishing area defined in the agreement and support the Kingdom’s efforts to develop the fishing sector as well as a blue economy.
Recalling the negotiating stages of this agreement, the Council notes that the European Commission has assessed its potential impact on sustainable development, particularly with regard to the benefits for the populations concerned and the exploitation of the natural resources of the southern provinces of the Kingdom.
According to this assessment, the Council adds, “it is considered that the fisheries agreement should be of great benefit to the populations concerned, because of the positive socio-economic benefits for these populations, particularly in terms of employment and investment, and its implications for the development of the fisheries sector and the processing of fishery products”.
Likewise, the Council adds, it is considered that the fisheries agreement represents the best guarantee for the sustainable exploitation of the natural resources of waters adjacent to the southern provinces of the Kingdom, as fishing activities respect the best advice and scientific recommendations in this area and that they are subject to appropriate monitoring and control measures.
The Council recalls that, in view of the considerations set out in the judgment of the Court of Justice, the European Commission, in connection with the European External Action Service, has taken all reasonable and possible measures in the current context to ensure appropriate involvement of the populations concerned to ensure their consent, “noting that” extensive consultations have been conducted and the socio-economic and political actors who participated in the consultations have clearly expressed their support for the conclusion of the fishing agreement.