WSRW concerned about Russian fisheries in occupied Western Sahara

WSRW asked in a letter president Medvedev to explain what Russia has done to prevent violating international law by fishing in occupied Western Sahara.
Published: 12.04 - 2010 09:00Printer version    
The below letter was sent to Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev, on 9 April 2010. The photo above shows a vessel from Murmans Trawl Fleet (MTF), docked in harbour of Las Palmas. MTF fishes in the territory in violation of international law, under an agreement the Russian government has signed with Morocco, the occupying power of Western Sahara. .

President Dmitry Medvedev
Ilinka Str, No 23
103132, Moscow
The Russian Federation

Brussels, 9 April 2010

Regarding Russian fisheries in occupied Western Sahara

Dear President,

Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) wishes to repeat our concern about the Russian-Moroccan fisheries cooperation.

On 27 May 2009, we sent a letter to your office, as well as to the office of Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sergey Lavrov, regarding the Russian-Moroccan Fisheries Partnership Agreement, which at the time was about to be renegotiated.

In our letter, we urged the Government of the Russian Federation to:

1) immediately halt fisheries offshore Western Sahara under the current Russian-Moroccan Fisheries Partnership Agreement; and
2) clearly specify in the forthcoming agreement that the southern limit for fishing activities in Moroccan waters is the internationally recognized border between Morocco and Western Sahara, 27º 40’ north.

We had hoped to receive an answer before the new agreement was renegotiated, but have so far not had a reply. In stead, we keep observing that Russian trawlers operate in the territory of Western Sahara, and we thus suppose that the agreement, regrettably, has been renegotiated under the same terms as before.

We pointed out in our letter that fisheries in Western Sahara is in violation of international law, and that Morocco is in no position to exploit the Territory’s resources without the permission of the Sahrawi people or their internationally recognized representatives.

In this regard, we would like to point you to the recent legal opinion from the Legal Service of the European Parliament, which confirms the point we made, urging the fisheries in Western Sahara to be stopped. Please find the mentioned legal opinion here:

We would like to reiterate our demand that the Government of the Russian Federation must respect international law, and cease fisheries operations in occupied Western Sahara in the disregard of the wishes and interests of the people of the territory.

We also hereby request you to explain which measures the Government of the Russian Federation has taken to guarantee that the Sahrawi people has been properly consulted prior to the signing of the renewed Fisheries Partnership Agreement.

We would also appreciate if you could send us a copy of the Agreement, preferably in English or French.

Looking forward to hear from you,

Yours sincerely,


Sara Eyckmans
International Coordinator,
Western Sahara Resource Watch

Copy sent to: Permanent Mission of Russia to the EU in Brussels


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Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
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