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French Version

Moroccan MPs ratify fishing deal with EU

Morocco's Parliament has ratified an agreement with the European Union that radically reduces the number of European boats allowed to fish in Moroccan waters, a parliamentary source said Thursday. The fishing accord was signed in Brussels between Morocco and the EU on July 28, 2005, but needed to go through Parliament, the source said.

The deal cuts the number of European fishing boats allowed to operate in Moroccan territorial waters from 447 to 120, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Mohand Laenser said Wednesday when he presented it.

The agreement also bans fishing of species at risk, including shrimp and cephalopods, which include squids, octopuses and cuttlefish.

The European Union will annually pay Morocco a little more than 40 million euros to make a total 161 million euros ($209 million) over the four-year period covered by the agreement, added the minister.

Members of Parliament in the Justice and Development party voted against the deal. One deputy from this Islamist grouping, Soumeya Ben Khaldoun, dismissed the sum to be paid to Morocco as "derisory."

"The fish that are caught will be processed in Europe, which creates unfair competition to the detriment of Moroccan firms," she said, adding that the agreement was intended to create 12,000 jobs, directly or indirectly, in European countries, but only 300 on the Moroccan coast.

Casablanca,11 28 2006
The Daily Star
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