Spanish MEPS asked to vote against EU/Morocco agreement –

Spanish MEPS asked to vote against EU/Morocco agreement Published:  12 December, 2011

Fourteen social and environmental organisations have sent a letter to all Spanish MEPs asking them to vote against the renewal of the fisheries agreement between the European Union (EU) and Morocco.

They cite a flagrant violation of the international law on the fisheries agreements signed so far – by including the waters of Western Sahara  – as their reason.

They explain that Western Sahara is considered a non-autonomous territory with a pending decolonisation process so the exploitation of its natural resources is contrary to international law if two basic requirements are not met: that the benefits of any operation directly affect the Saharawi and that any agreement concerning the resources needs the Polisario Front’s approval.

The decision on the ratification or otherwise of the extension of the bilateral fisheries agreement within the European Parliament (EP) is expected on Tuesday, 13 December.

The first agreement between the parties was signed in 2007 and lasted four years.

The current deal offers 119 licences to the European fleet, plus an additional quota for pelagic species such as anchovy, mackerel and herring.

The Spanish fleet receives 100 permits, divided between Andalusia and the Canaries.

In return, the EU pays EUR 36.1 million a year to Morocco, whose authorities use this as a contribution to the fisheries sector and to carry out development measures.

Last July, the European Commission (EC) signed a one-year extension of the current agreement without the support of Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, United Kingdom, Cyprus and Austria.

The 14 organisations that signed the letter maintain that the fishing licences obtained only benefit a few large vessels engaged in industrial fishing, using extractive techniques that are really harmful to the marine ecosystem.

“In fact, these fishing boats, according to the latest report, have contributed significantly to the overexploitation of Sahrawi fishery resources,” states Ecologists in Action, one of those behind the letter.