Morocco, EU sign new fishing rights deal

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Morocco and the European Union have signed a new four-year agreement allowing European fleets to fish the North African kingdom’s coastal waters in exchange for 40 million euros ($53 million) a year.

The agreement, announced by government officials in Rabat, must be approved by the European parliament, which in December 2011 declined to renew an earlier 36 million euro-per-year deal. The parliament said that deal was unprofitable, allowed the exploitation of stocks and didn’t help the people of the Western Sahara, off whose coast most of the fishing occurred.

Morocco annexed Western Sahara in 1975 and considers it part of its territory, despite a separatist movement seeking independence.

Maria Damanaki, the European commissioner for maritime affairs, said she was optimistic the new deal addresses these concerns and would be approved.

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