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Spain fishermen protest Morocco trawling ban

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(BARBATE) - Hundreds of fishermen demonstrated in southern Spain Monday against a ban on them trawling in Moroccan waters which threatens their livelihoods.

The fishing crews, barred by Morocco from its waters since December 14, protested in the Mediterrean port of Barbate, saying the ban was ruining a region already stricken by an economic downturn.

"This decision worsens the crisis that people are going through here," said Domingo Pacheco Ruiz of the fishermen's association that organised the demonstration.

"Not everyone in Barbate depends on the sea but it is the only sector that is still keeping people alive," he told AFP.

Morocco banned Spanish boats on December 14 when the European Parliament cancelled a deal for EU countries to fish there in exchange for annual payments to Rabat.

The European parliament argued the deal cost the EU too much, was environmentally damaging and may not have been in the interests of people in the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

Spanish fishermen, particularly in the southern Andalucia region and the Canary Islands, said the ban ruined their livelihoods since they rely on the Morrocan fishing grounds.

"We want to work," Pacheco said. "According to the information we have, Morocco is willing to negotiate with Brussels and we hope to have good news tomorrow, that new negotiations will begin."

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