Cepesca has expressed caution over the decision by the GCEU to annul agreement with Morocco. Photo: Cepesca

Cepesca has expressed caution over the decision by the GCEU to annul agreement with Morocco. Photo: Cepesca

The Spanish Fisheries Confederation (Cepesca) has expressed caution before the ruling of the General Court of the EU that annuls the decisions of the Council in relation, among others, with the agreement of collaboration of sustainable fishing with Morocco and remembers that it will remain in force at least for two months, time to file an appeal for cassation, or until the date of the ruling of the Court of Justice of the EU on said appeal.

According to the sector, after that period of time, and in the worst case scenario, the decision would be a severe blow to the Community fishing fleet since the current fishing agreement of the European Union (EU) and Morocco contemplates possible licenses for a total of 128 vessels of the Union, including 92 Spanish vessels from Andalusia, the Canary Islands and Galicia : 22 purse seiners and 25 bottom longliners for artisanal fishing in the north, 10 artisanal fishing vessels in the south with pole and line, 7 for demersal fishing with bottom trawl and longline and 23 tuna pole-and-line vessels.

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The ruling of the General Court of the European Union (TEU) of this Wednesday by which it has annulled the fisheries and agricultural agreements between the European Union and Morocco, for including in its application products from Western Sahara whose territory is still in the process of decolonization, It has sowed concern in the Spanish fishing sector that the important Saharawi fishing ground may be lost.

The sector also expresses its collaboration, to the extent of its possibilities, to maintain the agreement “given the years of cooperation and the socio-economic benefits for both parties, including the population of Western Sahara. ” In this sense, the sector announces that it will propose the convening of a meeting of the Joint Euro-Moroccan Commission of Fisheries Professionals to address the scenarios that this decision opens.

It should be remembered that the protocol of the agreement has a duration of four years and entered into force in July 2019, after its ratification by the Kingdom of Morocco and the EU after a year of negotiations. The agreement represents an economic compensation for the EU of € 48.1 million in the first year, € 50.4 million in the second and € 55.1 million in the third and fourth, including sector support and the shipowners’ fee, which amounts to an amount between 11 and 13 million euros per year.

According to Javier Garat, Secretary General of Cepesca and President of Europêche, “once again the Spanish and Community fishing sector cannot breathe easy and carry out sustainable and science-based fishing”. “It cannot be overlooked”, Garat emphasizes, “the mutual benefit that this agreement entails and the important impact it has for both at a socio-economic level”.

Speaking to Pesca Con Ciencia he said, “It is a complementary agreement to other similar agreements in other fishing areas, for example, as in the case of Andalusia, the activities in the Gulf of Cádiz or in Galicia are complementary to the activities carried out in Mauritania”, the representative of Cepesca.

In his opinion, if the trade agreement with Morocco were finally broken, it would be “a good stick for the ships that use those waters as fishing grounds.”

He concluded by saying, “Brussels must ensure that Western Sahara productions are not camouflaged as Moroccan.”

At the moment, in its ruling, the Luxembourg court has estimated the resources of the Polisario Front, although it maintains the validity of said agreements “for a certain time” – specifically, two months – until the European Justice issues a final judgment. In this way, the TEU aims to “preserve the Union’s external action and the legal certainty of its international commitments”. The ruling can be appealed before the Court of Justice of the EU within two months and ten days.

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Cepesca expresses caution over GCEU decision to annul agreement with Morocco

by editor time to read: 7 min