According to the Moroccan Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries

Marruecos dice que negociará el acuerdo de pesca con la UE con “otra regla”

AFP/FADEL SENNA - Fishermen unload boxes of fish in the port of Western Sahara's main Moroccan-controlled city of Laayoune

The Moroccan Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mohammed Sadiki, said Wednesday that his country "is prepared for any scenario" regarding the renewal of the fisheries agreement with the European Union (EU), which expires on 17 July, and that it will opt for "another rule" to negotiate it.

"The agreement expires this summer. Technical meetings are being held on an ongoing basis. When the time comes to open the issue we will see what will happen, but we are prepared for any scenario," the Moroccan minister indicated in a meeting with the press in Rabat organised by the Moroccan news agency MAP.

He was responding to a question on the latest statements by his Spanish counterpart, Luis Planas, who expressed pessimism about the renewal of the agreement, suspended by European justice for covering Western Saharan waters and which expires in July, pending a ruling by the EU courts on an appeal against the suspension.

Sadiki affirmed that Morocco has no "indications" at the moment as to whether or not there will be an extension, but noted that his country will opt for "another rule" in the negotiations.

"The world is open and the fisheries sector has export and value acquisition potential. There will be a new orientation towards new capacities, and in terms of negotiation we will go with another rule," the Moroccan minister stressed.

The EU-Morocco fisheries agreement and the associated implementation protocol entered into force on 18 July 2019 for a period of four years, granting 138 fishing licences of which the main beneficiary is Spain with 93 licences from Andalusia, the Canary Islands and Galicia.

In 2021, the EU Court of Justice ruled in favour of the Polisario Front, which claims independence for Western Sahara, arguing that the agreement - which includes the waters of the former Spanish colony - with Morocco was approved without the consent of the Sahrawi people.

The European Council launched an appeal against this decision on 16 December 2021.