Why the Key Bay imports are not in accordance with EU law

This morning, the Key Bay tanker delivered a shipment of fish oil from occupied Western Sahara to France. But why does that potentially violate EU regulations?
Published: 23.01 - 2017 09:59Printer version    
The “EU Hygiene Regulations on Fish Oil intended for Human Consumption and Third Country Establishments" has a section on “Additional information regarding fish oil that is to be imported from third countries into the EU”. There, the Regulation specifies that "when importing fish oil for human consumption from a third country after 30 April 2009, the country must be listed in accordance with Article 11 of Regulation (EC) 854/2004 for import of fishery products."

"Furthermore, the third country establishment from which that product was dispatched, and in which it was obtained or prepared must appear on the lists of establishment from which import of specific products of animal origin are permitted", the Regulation reads.

Was the cargo on the Key Bay in line with that Regulation? Unlikely.

Spanish authorities have already confirmed the information from Western Sahara Resource Watch that the shipment of fish oil of the Key Bay originates from Western Sahara. However, Western Sahara is not on the list of third countries from where fishery products can be imported and there is no list of approved establishments for Western  Sahara.

The fish oil aboard the Key Bay most likely came from KB Fish, which is located in Western Sahara, but appears on the list of approved establishments for Morocco.

Moreover, Last December, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Justice, in the case 104/16 (Council v POLISARIO), decided that the EU Association and Trade Liberalization Agreements with Morocco are not applicable to Western Sahara.

Firstly, the Court ruled, that according to international law and the right to self-determination, Western Sahara has a “separate and distinct status […] in relation to that of any State, including the Kingdom of Morocco” (paragraph 92), and therefore that Western Sahara is not a part of the sovereign territory of Morocco.

Secondly, the Court found that the people of Western Sahara must be regarded as a ‘third party’ to the EU-Morocco relations. Therefore, the Saharawi people must give their consent for EU-Morocco agreements to be applicable to the territory of Western Sahara and its natural resources, “without it being necessary to determine whether [these agreements are likely to harm [the people of Western Sahara] or, on the contrary, to benefit it (paragraph 106)”.

The findings of the European Court of Justice are crystal clear: EU-Morocco trade deal cannot cover the territory of Western Sahara without the prior consent of the Saharawi people.

Following the decision of the Court, Morocco has no authority, according to EU law, to register or approve, in its sovereign capacity, Moroccan establishments located in Western Sahara, without the prior consent of the Saharawi people. But check the list of EU approved fishery products establishments for Morocco and the list of EU approved fishery processing plants for Morocco and run a search for “Laâyoune”, “Dakhla” or “Boujdour”. A sizeable number of the establishments on the EU approved lists for Morocco are in fact located in Western Sahara.

KB Fish - where the fish oil that has this morning entered the Fécamp port most probably came from - is located in El Aaiun (or Laayoune in Morocco's preferred spelling). But it appears on the list of EU approved fishery exporters for Morocco. Remarkably, that list was last updated 9 January 2017; well after the EU's highest Court delivered its Judgment on the matter.

If indeed the fish oil on the Key Bay did not come for an establishment that was approved in accordance with EU law, it has no valid approval number and cannot be imported in the EU.

Morocco has occupied the larger part of the territory of Western Sahara since 1975. Half the people of the territory has since fled their homeland, while Morocco profits from the exploitation of its resources.



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25.04 - 2017 / 24.04 - 2017New report on global phosphate trade from occupied Western Sahara
23.04 - 2017 / 19.04 - 2017Vigeo Eiris asserts Saharawi consent unnecessary
15.04 - 2017 / 15.04 - 2017Kosmos/Cairn oil study in occupied waters has ended
11.04 - 2017 / 31.03 - 2017Agrium looks to other sources than Western Sahara
11.04 - 2017 / 11.04 - 2017Self-immolation by Moroccan sea captain in Dakhla
31.03 - 2017 / 31.03 - 2017Polisario protests Kosmos/Cairn exploration in occupied waters
30.03 - 2017 / 30.03 - 2017FMC Corp confirms it is no longer into Western Sahara phosphates
28.03 - 2017 / 28.03 - 2017Here is Kosmos Energy's supply vessel in occupied Western Sahara
28.03 - 2017 / 28.03 - 2017Unemployed Saharawi youth hi-jacked OCP bus
24.03 - 2017 / 24.03 - 2017Morocco's P for Politics in Africa
23.03 - 2017 / 07.03 - 2017Kosmos with extensive seismic studies off occupied Western Sahara
23.03 - 2017 / 23.03 - 2017African Union asks Morocco not to sign Western Sahara deals
20.03 - 2017 / 20.03 - 2017French government dilutes Court of Justice conclusion
17.03 - 2017 / 17.03 - 2017Spain confirms: EU-Morocco trade deal not for Western Sahara goods
17.03 - 2017 / 02.03 - 2017New controversial energy infrastructure to be built in Western Sahara
16.03 - 2017 / 16.03 - 2017New publication on the EU and Western Sahara
10.03 - 2017 / 08.03 - 2017Morocco lobbies for toxic metals in EU agriculture
08.03 - 2017 / 05.03 - 2017Basque parliament asks companies to stay clear from Western Sahara


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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Support Western Sahara Resource Watch


Help us to protect the natural resources of Western Sahara for the Saharawi people. Support our work by making a donation.
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