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
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. http://www.wsrw.org/index.php?cat=141&art=1161
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: http://www.wsrw.org/index.php?parse_news=single&cat=105&art=1346
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,
Sara Eyckmans International Coordinator, Western Sahara Resource Watch
Copy sent to: Permanent Mission of Russia to the EU in Brussels
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.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the three different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents.