In advance of next week’s EU-Morocco summit, Mohamed Sidati, Minister for Europe of the Frente POLISARIO, the political representation of the people of Western Sahara, has written to Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, to demand that the European Commission intervene immediately to prevent any further fishing by EU vessels in the waters adjacent to Western Sahara. Download the letter to Commissioner Damanaki here.
Last week, in a previously confidential legal opinion, the European Parliament’s Legal Service declared fishing by European vessels in Western Sahara’s waters under the terms of the EU-Morocco FPA to be in violation of international law.
The new opinion confirms that under the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Morocco, European vessels are fishing Western Sahara’s rich waters, and that the Saharawi population of Western Sahara has never been consulted nor received any benefits from the exploitation of their rich fisheries resources. This is illegal under international law. The new opinion calls on the European Commission to suspend or amend the EU-Morocco agreement to ensure that “EU-flagged vessels are excluded from the exploitation of the waters of Western Sahara .”
During the debate on the new opinion in the European Parliament on 23 February, the European Commission rejected this analysis and asserted that there was no evidence to suggest that the Saharawi people was not benefiting from the agreement.
This new letter challenges the Commission’s assertion, demonstrating that on many occasions over the last 5 years, the representatives of the Saharawi people of Western Sahara have confirmed repeatedly to the Commission that the FPA is contrary to their wishes, and in violation of international law.
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