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Finnish MPE Carl Haglund at the EP full session. (Photo: PE)

EP rejects extension of fisheries agreement with Morocco

EUROPEAN UNION
Thursday, December 15, 2011, 02:00 (GMT + 9)

On Wednesday the European Parliament (EP) rejected the extension of the current fisheries agreement between the European Union (EU) and Morocco until February 2012.

In addition, the European Parliament asked the European Commission (EC) to negotiate a new pact, which should be more economically and environmentally beneficial, taking into consideration the interests of the people from Western Sahara.

The EP’s vote means the immediate cessation of the current protocol, which has been provisionally applied since 28 February.

The extension of the bilateral fisheries agreement was rejected with 326 votes against it, 296 votes in favour and 58 abstentions.

Finnish MEP Carl Haglund cited economic, ecological and legal issues to justify his opposition to the continuation of the agreement.

“This vote can not be considered as a hostile move towards our partners but as an indication that we are serious about a very important issue,” he said.

He added that he favours a future fisheries agreement with Morocco, but a better one than the current pact.

"There is no doubt that [a good deal] is something we all want," continued the MEP.

Meanwhile, the resolution calling for the advancement of negotiations on a new protocol that is "economically, ecologically and socially sustainable and mutually beneficial" received 544 votes in favour, 123 votes against and 33 abstentions.

The approved text stresses that in the future, the fishing possibilities should be defined on the basis of scientific knowledge, people’s assessments and the fisheries sector’s needs.

Furthermore, it further argues that the EC must ensure that EU vessels can have access only to the surplus resources and that the financial aid should be used more effectively.

Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs of the EU, Maria Damanaki, stressed that "the EC will fully respect the European Parliament's vote today."

"We do not know if a new fisheries protocol with Morocco is possible. We will explore all the possible ways forward," she added.

The current agreement provides 119 licenses to the European fleet plus an additional quota for pelagic species such as anchovy, mackerel and herring.

The Spanish fleet received 100 permits, divided between Andalusia and the Canaries.

In return, the EU pays EUR 36.1 million a year to Morocco, whose authorities use this amount to support the fisheries sector and to carry out development measures.

Related article:

- Damanaki requires EP not to veto agreement with Morocco

By Analia Murias
[email protected]
www.fis.com

 


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