New efforts are underway to allow Europe’s fishermen back into Moroccan waters. A treaty between the European Union and Rabat ran out in 1999, leaving some 400 mainly Spanish trawlers with nowhere to go.
Talks to reach a new deal ran aground in 2001. The fact that it has taken this long to even reopen negotiations is an indication of just how thorny this issue is. Morocco wants to discuss more than just what happens at sea. It is keen to encourage European fish production companies to invest in the north African state. Economy and finance minister, Fathallah Oualalou, said: “We’re always open to talks about a partnership that could include sea food, especially on an industrial scale.” It is thought the most that can be hoped for from these talks between the EU and Morocco is for Rabat to allow between 100 and 120 boats licence to fish off its shores. However, with more than 550 applications currently pending, even the best case scenario will still leave many disappointed. Talks are expected to last until Wednesday at least.