The head of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (Magrama), Miguel Arias Cañete, says the negotiations that were resumed last week by the Commissioner of Fisheries of the European Union (EU), Maria Damanaki, and the Government of Morocco to subscribe a new fisheries agreement are steadily being developed and without “great difficulties.”
The Spanish minister expressed his hope that the agreement will be closed before the end of June 2012. Until that date, there remain in force the aids granted to the Spanish fishing fleet affected by the cancellation of the agreement, in December 2011, when the European Parliament (EP) decided to veto it.
“The news we have is positive, the development of the talks should allow the closure of the agreement within the first half of this year, as it had been planned,” pointed out Arias Cañete.
“There are no major technical difficulties right now. The financial compensations are being negotiated and I think there should not be many difficulties as to the negotiating and the settlement [of the agreement] on schedule,” the Spanish minister added.
The Government of Spain intends to settle negotiations “quickly” so that fishing vessels can soon “take up fishing activities again” in Moroccan waters.
After the blockade imposed by the EP, Brussels authorized Spain to direct part of the European funds collected to support the fishermen affected by the stoppage.
661 Spanish crew members affected by the cancellation of the covenant have received EUR 45 a day for six months, from 14 December, 2011.
Meanwhile, the ship owners of the 69 affected vessels are compensated with EUR 100 per day, stated the Spanish government. The aid will continue until 15 June, the agency Europa Press reported.
The future bilateral fisheries agreement aims to “respect environmental sustainability, benefit both parties and be in line with international law,” said Damanaki.
“For the EU and for Morocco, the cooperation is not a choice but a necessity. We have to cooperate if we are to manage fisheries resources effectively,” added the European Commissioner.
The previous agreement compensated Morocco with EUR 36.1 million per year apart from the training programmes of sailors and fisheries research funded by the EU.