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No Moroccan Tuna For the Spanish Fleet

The Spanish tuna fishing fleet have virtually been denied access to Moroccan waters after licenses offered to its tuna vessels carry implications they say are impossible to meet.

A new 4-year fisheries agreement was signed by the Moroccan Government and the EU executive this week which will allow 126 European boats to fish in Moroccan waters, most vessels of which will come from Spain.

But the five purse seine licenses offered to the Spanish fleet and the 11 longline authorizations for tuna fishing have come with consequences including the commitment to land 30 percent of fishing trips in Morocco and the assurance that a ruled quota of Moroccan crew on board the vessels will be met.

Without these implications the Spanish fleet would benefit from a capacity of several thousands of tonnage of tuna catch from Moroccan waters, but the Spanish Fisheries Confederation (Cepesca) said: “ The ban on cephalopods and crustaceans by-catches, and the number of compulsory Moroccan crew members finally included in this category will make it virtually impossible to use it despite the improvements achieved.”

The Moroccan fishing grounds have been closed to the whole of the European fishing fleet for over a year and a half. This was following the previous bilateral fishing pacts implementation term coming to an end.

Out of the expected EUR 40 million the EU will pay for the privilege, EUR 10 million is estimated to come from Spanish ship owners, but Spanish tuna ports such as Barbate, Conil and Algeria are unlikely to benefit from the economic boost the new agreement will return.

Cepesca regretted that the conditions placed on the deep-sea purse seiners will prevent the Spanish cephalopod fleet from having access to the Moroccan fishing ground that they had been expecting to return to.

With the purse seiners carrying such regulations, along with the exclusion of tuna freezing seiners in the agreement, Spain’s tuna fleet is unlikely to make a return to Moroccan waters.