Sahara: Morocco-EU fisheries agreement buries Polisario’s last hopes

The new fisheries agreement between Morocco and the European Union (EU) was initialed in Rabat on Tuesday. The new agreement, which delimits the fishing zones on the entire Atlantic coast of the Kingdom, from Cap Spartel in the North to Cap Blanc in the far South of the Sahara, buries the last hopes of the Polisario and Algeria and consecrates the Morocco-EU strategic partnership.

 

The remarks were made by the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and they are revealing. In a statement to the media after the agreement was initialed, Nasser Bourita said that one of the objectives of this agreement was “to respond to maneuvers and attempts to disrupt (the Morocco-EU partnership) and to the interrogations, which call into question the inclusion of the Moroccan Sahara in this agreement”.

 

The political aspect of the agreement is considerable, because besides the fact that it constitutes a setback for the Polisario and Algeria, it consecrates the consensus of the international community on the Western Sahara issue and gives a boost to the autonomy plan, as the only realistic solution to the regional conflict.

 

On the technical side, the new agreement maintains unchanged the level of compulsory landings and fish species to be caught by the 128 vessels authorized to operate in Moroccan waters.

 

On the other hand, the financial contribution has been revised

upwards from the yearly €40 million to €52.2 million, a 30% increase.

 

Some species, subject to strict management plans, such as octopus and shrimp are not included in the new agreement.

 

Local populations in the areas concerned will benefit greatly from the agreement, particularly in terms of infrastructure, basic social services, business creation, vocational training, development projects and modernization of the fishing sector.

The agreement also provides for the increase of the number of Moroccan seafarers to board European trawlers.

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