MOROCCO – In a bid to ensure the sustainability of the Moroccan fisheries and foster trade with other nations, the government has inked a new maritime fisheries cooperation with Russia, to replace the 2016 agreement that expired this year in March.

This is in response to incessant squabbles over fishing right in international waters by foreign vessels, reports Morocco World News.

The new agreement, which will last for four years, establishes the legal framework allowing a fleet of 10 Russian vessels to fish for small pelagic species in Moroccan waters beyond 15 nautical miles.

The vessels are subject to a control and monitoring system that monitors each vessel by satellite, as well as the permanent embarkation of a Moroccan scientific observer.

The agreement also takes into account scientific and technical cooperation between the National Fisheries Research Institute and its Russian counterpart for the monitoring of the pelagic ecosystem in Moroccan waters.

Morocco earned MAD 15.3 billion (US$1.66 billion) from the export of fish and seafood in the first nine months of 2020

The deal will also benefit Moroccan students, with a projected number of training grants from Russian establishments specializing in sea fishing.

Further to that, the activity of Russian vessels in Moroccan waters offers work opportunities for local fishermen at the rate of 16 sailors per vessel at all times.

Morocco’s ministry of agriculture indicated that a joint commission will fix the quota for Russian vessels in the first year of the agreement in line with the provisions of the management plan of the “C stock small pelagic fishery.”

The commission will also cover all technical provisions and financial arrangements for the implementation of the agreement.

Fisheries is among Morocco’s most coveted natural resources. In addition to the new deal with Russia, the country also has a decades-long fisheries agreement with the EU. 

The fishing industry in the North African country is a leading foreign exchange earner. In the first nine months of 2020, Morocco earned MAD 15.3 billion (US$1.66 billion) from the export of fish and seafood.

The total exported amounts were 570,000 tonnes, a 7% rise from the corresponding period in 2019.

Canned sardines were the country’s highest exported product by volume, amounting to 116,850 tonnes worth MAD 3.6 billion (US$389.44 million).

In term of the leading earning exported seafood, frozen molluscs including octopus, recorded a significant annual rise of 28%.

These exports reached a total volume of 83,075 tonnes and a value of MAD 5.1 billion (US$551.71 million).

Fish oil exports on the other hand witnessed the highest annual increase in volume at 40%.

As of September, the country had exported 32,7400 tonnes of fish oil for a revenue of MAD 553.3 million (US$59.86 million) to France, the Netherlands, and China.

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