The Joint Euro-Moroccan Commission of Fishing Professionals  has met last week to jointly address the options and challenges posed by the ruling of the General Court of the EU that annuls the sustainable fisheries partnership agreement with Morocco. At this meeting, the operators from both sides spoke with one voice. Sector representatives reinstated their commitment to work together with all stakeholders and policy-makers to resolve the situation and prevent any damage to the industry, trade relationship and partnership between the two parties. The Euro-Moroccan Commission will be working on a declaration of intentions that conceptualizes the fishing sector’s vision to ensure that the good cooperation between Morocco and the EU in sustainable fisheries can continue in the future.
Last year the EU adopted a Multiannual Management Plan (MAP) of demersal fisheries in the Western Mediterranean that regulates the fleets, mainly trawlers, from Italy, France and Spain. Back then, the sector criticised the introduction of severe spatial-seasonal trawl closures and the harsh reduction of the activity at sea from the first year of implementation of the new rules. The fishing industry strictly complied with these measures even though undermined the viability of the Mediterranean fleets. Fishermen, now facing the consequences of the COVID-19, fear further cuts which would lead to a considerable decline in the number of fishing vessels, jobs and fish supply.
810.000 tonnes of imported fish will annually benefit from massive tariff derogations regardless of their origin, way of production, sustainability of the stock, labour standards or even if the third country has been identified by the EU for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
As part of the Green Deal, the European Commission has announced the goal to increase the EU’s offshore energy production twenty times to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The European Commission aims to meet this target while at the same time managing the maritime space sustainably. A recent study  commissioned by the EU Executive body puts forward a set of recommendations for positive interactions between fisheries and offshore wind farms. The fishing sector is sceptical about the main findings of this study which downplays the conflicts and echoes the myth of a so-called “happy co-existence” built by the wind energy sector. Likewise, the authors neglect the negative environmental impacts of windfarms and even more so the socio-economic consequences on the fishing communities.