The European Commission on authorized last week the extension of aid by Spain and Portugal to their fishermen and boat owners hit by the non-renewal of an EU fishing accord with Morocco. The fishing agreement expired last November 30 and the first temporary aid package to the fishermen covered the period through last June 30.
Technical negotiations between the EU and Morocco are to take place in Brussels on October 30. Because of their geographic proximity, Spanish, Portuguese and Moroccan fishermen ply the same waters of the Atlantic, hence the need for a common fisheries agreement to avoid tensions and clashes.
The aid will now be extended through the end of this year, and supplemented by the EU under the Financial Instrument for fisheries Guidance (FIFG) for an overall aid package of 55 million euro ($47 million) for Spain and 5.5 million euros for Portugal, the commission said in a statement.
"The extension of the aid package will help fishermen and vessel owners face the complete interruption of their fishing activities which has now lasted for 10 months," said Franz Fischler, commissioner for agriculture, rural development and fisheries. "In view of the outcome of my recent visit to Morocco, the commission will do its best to reach agreement on a new fisheries partnership that will benefit both the European and Moroccan fisheries sectors."
Fischler, who met in Rabat on Monday with King Mohammed VI and Prime Minister Abderrahmane Youssoufi, said Morocco "is highly interested in good, constructive cooperation with the EU on fishing." — (AFP, Brussels)
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