Spain demands compensation from EU in fishing row

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Spain said Thursday it will ask for compensation from the EU after the European Parliament cancelled a deal allowing EU trawlers, mainly from Spain, to fish in Moroccan waters.

"I am going to ask for compensation for the damage to Spain's fishing fleet," said Spain's Farm, Environment and Fisheries Minister Rosa Aguilar, who was in Brussels for talks on fishing.

The parliament move Wednesday prompted the North African nation to immediately ban all European fishing boats.

European legislators said they wanted to wait until the interests of Western Sahara trawlers were considered before agreeing to a 12-month extension of the deal.

Rights campaigners also said the deal breaches international law regarding Western Sahara, a region Morocco annexed in 1976.

Under the deal, Morocco would have received 36 million euros ($46 million) to let some 120 fishing boats, mainly from Spain, operate in its waters.

Finnish liberal MEP Carl Haglund said that payments already made were "a waste of taxpayers' funds" with no environmental benefit and no economic impact either on the EU or Morocco.

Aguolar said "I respect the decision but I'm not supporting it."

"I am going to ask for negotiations to be started up again," she added as she went into talks with counterparts.

© 2011 AFP

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