Rabat — After six rounds of arduous negotiations this year, the European Union agreed to renew its fisheries agreement with Morocco.
Under the four-year deal approved by the European Parliament on Tuesday (December 10th), Morocco will open its territorial waters to 126 EU fishing vessels in return for an annual payment of 40 million euros.
"Funds granted by the European Union will help in restructuring the Moroccan fisheries sector," Agriculture Minister Aziz Akhenouch said.
Political and trade relations between Morocco and the EU will also benefit from the "balanced agreement", Akhenouch added.
Activities of the EU fleet and catches by European vessels will be monitored "in order to assess the impact on marine resources and avoid damaging Moroccan fish stocks", the minister said. The deal also calls for "compulsory unloading in Moroccan ports".
"Negotiations have been difficult in order to reach this new agreement," Spanish Agriculture Minister Miguel Arias Cañete said, noting that the much-debated accord would also strengthen bilateral co-operation in "areas such as agriculture and immigration".
According to Moroccan Centre for Strategic Studies head Mohammed ben Hammou, Morocco struck a good deal when negotiating the renewal of the fisheries agreement.
"It allows Morocco to retain its marine wealth and environmental sustainability" while also strengthening the strategic partnership with the European Union, ben Hammou told Magharebia.
The fisheries accord "serves the interests of Morocco and the EU alike", agreed Tajeddine Houssaini a professor of international relations at the University of Mohammed V in Rabat.
The Council of Ministers of the European Union will meet next Monday to adopt the measure.
The European Parliament had previously blocked a fishing agreement with Morocco on the grounds that it included Western Sahara waters.