Prospects for Russian fisheries in Morocco

September 19, 2006 00:00

According to Appendix 3 to the order of Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture No. 240 dated 29 September 2005, at the third annual session of the Russian-Moroccan Mixed Fisheries Commission Russia’s total quota in the Atlantic fishing zone of Morocco for the current year 2006 has been set at 120,000 metric tons for commercial operations.

 

Structure of Russian catches in the Moroccan waters (Western Sahara) in the year 2006, ‘000 metric tons

Species

August 2006

January-August 2006

North Basin

West Basin

TOTAL

North Basin

West Basin

TOTAL

Mackerel

2.2

0.7

2.9

17.9

24.1

42.0

Horse mackerel

3.2

1.3

4.5

27.4

6.1

33.5

Sardinella

2.2

0.7

2.9

3.0

0.9

3.9

Anchovy

0.2

0.0

0.2

1.2

0.3

1.5

Sardine

0.6

0.2

0.8

9.2

1.2

10.4

Sardinops

0.1

0.0

0.1

0.1

0.0

0.1

Total with bycatch

8.6

3.0

11.6

59.4

33.1

92.5

 

Prospects

The raw fish base for fishery operations in the Moroccan waters is represented by such abundant pelagic fish as mackerel, horse mackerel, sardinella and sardine. The bycatch can contain dogtooth, porgy, bonito, hake and scabbardfish. The Soviet fishing fleet started to develop those resources in the area to the north of the Kap-Blan Cape in 1960s.

In the waters of Spanish and then Western Sahara fairly good catches have been reported both by pelagic and bottomfish trawlers and seiners. The highest catch was reported in 1988-1990 when ca.150 Soviet fishing vessels based in the country’s North (Murmansk), West (Kaliningrad) and South (Astrakhan) Basins harvested from 1 to 1.2 millions metric tons of fish per year. As the USSR collapsed and the Russian fishery industry had undergone a number of changes, the scale of fishery operations started to decrease. In the years 1995-1999 fishing in the waters of Morocco had been conducted under the bilateral intergovernmental fisheries agreement. The fishery operations had been conducted by large vessels to the south of the 28th degree North 15 miles off the coastline. Pelagic fisheries were conducted by up to 12 large Russian pelagic trawlers. They harvested up to 50,000-100,000 tonnes of fish per year. Along with the Russian trawlers up to 20 trawlers from the Ukraine and Baltic States were operating in the area in the above period. In the year 2000 the Russian-Moroccan agreement in the sphere of fisheries was not extended and the number of Russian vessels exploiting the fish resources of Morocco started to dwindle. At that time fisheries in the Moroccan waters were conducted by 3-4 large trawlers of the RTMKS, BATM and BMRTIB types with a total catch of less than 50,000 tonnes per year.

In the recent years pelagic fish resources basic for Russia’s operations in the waters of Morocco were in satisfactory condition. Underexploited resources were estimated at ca.500,000 metric tons, including 100,000 tonnes of sardine, 90,000 tonnes of sardinella, 130,000 tonnes of horse mackerel and 55,000 tonnes of mackerel. Actual Russian harvest was limited only to the volumes stipulated by the intergovernmental agreement with Morocco.

Agreement

Government of the Russian Federation has approved draft agreement with the government of Morocco studied in a preliminary way by the Moroccan side. According to the order No.1242-r dated 5 September 2006 Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture is authorized to sign the agreement. The order was signed by President Putin.

The agreement determines principles of Russian-Moroccan cooperation in the sphere of conservation and exploitation of aquatic biological resources in the Moroccan EEZ and specifies conditions for fishing operations of the Russian-flagged vessels in the Atlantic part of the Moroccan EEZ.

According to the agreement, Russia and Morocco are going to cooperate in the sphere of developing and realization of research surveys necessary for conservation and sustainable exploitation of aquatic biological stocks in the Atlantic part of the Moroccan fishing zone and beyond it. The sides cooperate in the development of the fishery methods, fish processing and aquaculture. Conditions for the above should be defined by the Russian-Moroccan Mixed Fisheries Commission as well as via consultations between the authorized bodies of the two countries. The Commission gathers once a year in turn in Russia and Morocco.

The sides encourage establishment of joint ventures in the sphere of small pelagic fisheries in Morocco, including fishing itself, onshore processing base and sales of final products.

The Moroccan side gives the Russian fishermen the right to harvest small pelagic species in the Atlantic part of the Moroccan fishing zone. Every year the Moroccan side defines quotas for particular species, the fishing areas and the number and types of the Russian fishing vessels allowed to operate under fishing licenses in the Atlantic part of the Moroccan fishing zone. In their turn, the Russian vessels take steps to conserve endangered resources and to restore some of their stocks according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Russian vessels are allowed to operate in the Atlantic part of the Moroccan fishing zone subject to the following conditions:

-          presence of paid license for fishery operations issued for the particular type of vessels in compliance with Morocco’s current legislation;

-          due payment of the annual financial compensation for the right to fishing operations equal to a definite percentage from the value of products made onboard Russian fishing vessels.

In its turn, the Moroccan side gives the Russian fishing vessels, which have approved for operation in the Atlantic part of the Moroccan fishing zone, the following services:

-          anchorage;

-          berthing and repair;

-          unshipping, shipment and transshipping of equipment, material procurement and spare parts;

-          supply of drinking water, fuel and foodstuffs;

-          transshipment of fish products from the Russian fishing vessels under conditions defined by the Commission.

At the request of the Moroccan side the Russian side encourages landings of small pelagic to the Moroccan fish canneries. The Russian side is also obliged to present all the statistic information connected with the fishing operations of the Russian fleets in the Moroccan waters, in particular information on the volume of frozen and landed fish (by species) under the conditions specified by the Moroccan side. The Russian side also undertakes to cooperate with Morocco as to joining the Moroccan satellite system to monitor vessels’ position. Conditions for such cooperation will be defined at the first session of the Russian-Moroccan Mixed Fisheries Commission.

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