Morocco, EU Resume Fish Talks

Friday, January 26, 2001
Morocco and the European Union have resumed protracted talks to renew a multi-million-dollar fishing agreement, government officials said. During the previous session in Rabat two weeks ago, EU Farm and Fisheries Commissioner Franz Fischler stormed out of the talks, accusing the Moroccan side of breaking its promises and reversing positions from one day to the next. Moroccan Fisheries Minister Said Chbaatou denied his government had back-pedaled on certain issues. The two sides resumed talks on Thursday in Rabat, the official MAP news agency said. The EU ambassador to Rabat, Lucio Guerrato, said that "progress was made and the session was positive." Morocco has repeatedly refused to renew the four-year accord with the EU, seeking a new deal to protect its fish stocks and bring new European investment to upgrade its fishing industry. The agreement, which expired in November 1999, mainly affects Spanish and Portuguese trawlers, which dominate the 500-ship EU fleet allowed to operate in Moroccan waters.

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