The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) between the European Union (EU) and Morocco is about to expire on July 17. It turns out that the possibility of non-renewal is of concern to Andalusia, the main beneficiary in Spain with 47 trawlers fishing in Moroccan maritime areas.
Andalusian Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Carmen Crespo, expressed, on Monday, Andalusia’s concern over the expiry and the possibility of non-renewal of the Morocco-EU fishing agreement, which weighs on the Andalusian fleet, trawlers which traditionally fish in Moroccan maritime areas.
Crespo specified that 47 fishing vessels having their home port in the province of Cadiz – Campo de Gibraltar, Barbate and Conil, fish in Moroccan waters. Among these vessels, 25 are dedicated to bottom longline and 22 to purse seine, with a total crew of around 500 people, says a press release from the Andalusian ministry.
The same source specifies that during the period of validity of the last agreement, Andalusian fishermen were able to fish more than 1,500 tons worth four million euros in these fishing areas. In terms of species, anchovy, sardine, sea bream, sea bass, hake, permit and tuna stand out.
Faced with this situation, the Andalusian minister asked the Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, ” exercise the maximum possible leadership in front of Brussels“, while urging him to ” do everything in one’s power “so that the European Commission” speed up the negotiations with the Kingdom of Morocco in order to find a definitive solution and to approve, as soon as possible, this important fisheries agreement with Morocco“.
For Crespo, Morocco “ plays a fundamental role in the economy of the fishing sector in Andalusia“.
In this regard, Crespo considered that the Spanish government ” must try to bring the parties together and guarantee an activity on which many households in the province of Cádiz depend” , given that ” the impact that the non-renewal of the fishing agreement would have would concern both the crews and the shipowners and the auxiliary companies in the sector which are involved, among other things, in the manufacture of ice cream or the transport of products“.
” It is fundamental for the Andalusian fishing sector to continue to develop its activity in the fishing areas where it is traditionally present, since this allows it to guarantee the continuity of its activity and to engage in a more diversified marketing in the different fishing markets“, she pointed out.
Carmen Crespo also indicated that the non-renewal of the agreement with the Kingdom of Morocco would lead to a concentration of ships in the Gulf of Cadiz. And explains: The fishing effort that was directed towards Moroccan fishing areas would be concentrated in Andalusian waters, which could lead to a loss of profitability and employability of the Andalusian fishing fleet.“.
According to the Andalusian ministry, it is necessary to remember that the fisheries agreement signed between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco has been in question since 2021, when the Court of Justice of the EU pointed out that the agreement had concluded without having taken into account the Polisario Front, which represents the interests of Western Sahara, in the negotiation.
It should be noted that Spain benefits from 93 fishing permits of the 138 permits granted by the Kingdom to the 10 beneficiary European States, including Portugal, France, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy and even the UK.
The fisheries agreement is of capital, even vital importance for these countries and its weight is enormous in economic terms. However, the European Commission had recently affirmed in a statement addressed to MoroccoLatestNews that no negotiations are underway with Morocco concerning the renewal of this agreement, nor on the inclusion of the southern regions of the Kingdom in it.
According to the Commission, everyone in Europe is waiting for the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which could be delivered before the expiry date of the agreement next July.