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Commissioner seeks to strengthen EU-Morocco fisheries partnership

EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella. (Photo: Government of Malta)
Friday, February 27, 2015, 23:20 (GMT + 9)

Last week European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella visited the third edition of the Salon Halieutis, organised under the high patronage of King Mohamed VI, to underline the importance of the fisheries partnership and cooperation between the EU and Morocco. The large scale international event focused on the different economic sectors of the marine fisheries, aquaculture and seafood industries, and attracted 45,000 visitors and exhibitors from over 30 countries.

Commissioner Vella met with the Moroccan Minister of Agriculture and Marine Fisheries, Aziz Akhannouch, to highlight the role of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement in the sustainable development of the local fisheries sector and the wider economy. The agreement, renewed last year after a two year hiatus, is the second most important of its kind and belongs to a new generation of fisheries agreements in line with the new Common Fisheries Policy's principles of environmental sustainability, economic profitability and international legality.

The EU has similar fishing agreements with a number of countries across the world that allow EU boats to fish in foreign waters in return for EU investment. The new CFP seeks to improve the scientific knowledge underlying the fishing rights granted under the agreements, strengthen their governance and better promote sustainable fishing. As part of each of the EU's SFPAs, there is a significant investment in sectoral support, in Morocco's case EUR 14 million are earmarked to support the local fisheries sector, which seeks to provide increased job opportunities for local fishermen, help build a robust fisheries infrastructure, train up local seamen and get them working on EU boats, and exchange ideas and best practices.

During the visit, the EU launched a twinning and investment programme for Morocco's aquaculture sector, whilst Commissioner Vella discussed the potential for sustainable blue growth in the western Mediterranean with a range of business leaders and met with a number of Fisheries Ministers from other African countries to promote better ocean governance, in particular the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

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