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.



15.02 - 2017 / 15.02 - 2017Glencore steps up oil search offshore occupied Western Sahara
14.02 - 2017 / 14.02 - 2017Vigeo Eiris silent on its Moroccan approach to Western Sahara
13.02 - 2017 / 12.02 - 2017Siemens dodges questions on Saharawi consent
10.02 - 2017 / 09.02 - 2017This cargo from occupied Western Sahara is now to arrive France
09.02 - 2017 / 09.02 - 2017Danish company stops salt imports from Western Sahara
02.02 - 2017 / 02.02 - 2017EU looks to avoid energy imports from Western Sahara
25.01 - 2017 / 25.01 - 2017Key Bay unloaded all cargo in Fécamp, France
24.01 - 2017 / 24.01 - 2017Here is the Key Bay inside the port of Fécamp
23.01 - 2017 / 23.01 - 2017Why the Key Bay imports are not in accordance with EU law
22.01 - 2017 / 22.01 - 2017Key Bay just outside of port of Fécamp
18.01 - 2017 / 18.01 - 2017Key Bay to arrive in France while complaints to be filed
14.01 - 2017 / 14.01 - 2017Key Bay appears at Las Palmas horizon
14.01 - 2017 / 13.01 - 2017Key Bay is now heading to Las Palmas
07.01 - 2017 / 07.01 - 2017Fresh images: Key Bay inside the port
06.01 - 2017 / 06.01 - 2017Here is the vessel that will transport fish oil to the EU
06.01 - 2017 / 06.01 - 2017First ship to challenge EU Court ruling on occupied Western Sahara
04.01 - 2017 / 04.01 - 2017Chinese Geron Energy might take over block in occupied Western Sahara
25.12 - 2016 / 25.12 - 2016Kosmos Energy asked by OECD contact point to quote correctly
23.12 - 2016 / 23.12 - 2016WSRW concerned: Vigeo Eiris greenwashes dirty energy on occupied land
22.12 - 2016 / 22.12 - 2016Reaction from Polisario on EU-Morocco court case


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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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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