Spanish fishermen have threatened to block Moroccan products crossing Spanish territory to European markets in protest at Morocco's refusal to renew a fisheries agreement with the European Union.
The agreement would have allowed Spanish fishermen back into Moroccan waters. Last year, angry Spaniards destroyed hundreds of tons of Moroccan tomatoes, oranges and other products heading to European markets.
The Spaniards hoped the move would pressure the European Union to sign a new fisheries accord with Morocco. Morocco called the act "savage and non-civilized. " Morocco did not renew the fisheries accord with European Union when it expired on November 30, 1999.
Under the accord some 600 European trawlers, mainly Spanish and Portuguese, were allowed to operate in Moroccan waters. Morocco wanted a new agreement with the European Union, one that would preserve the kingdom's huge sea resources.
Moroccan territorial waters extend over 1.2 million KM2 with a 3,500-kilometer long seashore that harbors over 840 fish species.
Moroccan officials and fisheries experts argue that in addition to fish farming, a new agreement should promote joint ventures in fisheries-related sectors such as shipyards, ships maintenance, and seafood processing.
Experts said the non-renewal of the agreement with the European Union would have a positive affect on Morocco's fisheries sector. Experts predict Moroccan fleet catches to reach 1.5 million tons in 2003. Today, catches do not exceed 700,000 tons.
Some 400,000 Moroccans work in the fisheries sector. –(Albawaba-MEBG)
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )