Yesterday, both the Budget and Development Committees in the European Parliament recommended rejecting the extension of the EU-Morocco fisheries partnership agreement. The opinions of these two committees will provide input to the Fisheries Committee, which is expected to vote on the agreement on 22 or 23 November.
The Agreement has previously been criticised in an external consultant review for providing the lowest cost-benefit financial returns to the EU of all ongoing bilateral agreements. Human rights issues relating to fishing activities in the waters of Western Sahara have also been documented.
The rapporteur in the Fisheries Committee, Carl Haglund, has provided a draft recommendation to the committee in his report from late September, and was scathing in his criticisms, stating that “of the 11 demersal stocks fished in the Moroccan waters, five appear overexploited, four appear fully exploited, while two stocks could not be sufficiently analysed due to lack of data. He further adds that “… the almost total depletion of these stocks begs the question whether the principle of EU vessels only fishing surplus stocks is adhered to. The fishing activities off the coast of Morocco also have adverse impacts on the environment, most notably through the widespread problem of discards, catches of sharks and probable catches of marine mammals by pelagic trawlers.”
According to Haglund there are no reasons for the Parliament to give its consent to extend an Agreement that is a waste of taxpayers’ money, is ecologically and environmentally unsustainable and has no significant macro-economic effect on either the EU or Morocco. As rapporteur, he therefore recommended that the Parliament declines to give its consent to an extension.
Given the Council has already renewed the Agreement with Morocco, which runs from 28.2.11-27.2.12, the Parliament has a limited ability to affect the deal, as there will be only three month left after their vote. However, their decision will impact upon subsequent renewals.