Western Sahara fishing: Morocco plays hide and seek with EU
When an unofficial delegation from the European Parliament visited Dakhla city in occupied Western Sahara, the Moroccan government pulled the foreign flagged European fleet out of the harbour. After hiding 8 km offshore Dakhla for a day, the vessels returned.
A group of European Parliamentarians visited yesterday the town of Dakhla in occupied Western Sahara in the context of lobbying for continued EU fisheries in the territory that Morocco has illegally occupied.
A Saharawi fisherman from Dakhla says European vessels, currently fishing in southern Western Sahara under non-European flags, were in a place called 'La Sarga', some 8 km out of Dakhla harbour, during the Parliamentarians' visit. The delegation is said to have stayed at the port for just 15 minutes, during which only Moroccan fishermen were allowed to enter the area.
From what Western Sahara Resource Watch has been told, the entire fleet of private industrial vessels was pulled out of the harbour before the MEPs' arrival to the port yesterday early afternoon.
After the Parliamentarians had left town, the vessels returned. The video above was filmed shortly after the vessels were back in the harbour.
Saharawi fishermen committees tried to meet with members of the delegation, but state to have been hindered by the Moroccan police forces in Dakhla.
A European owned fishing fleet is currently present in Western Sahara, fishing under various Caribbean flags of convenience. The video shows, among others, the Swedish owned vessels Meya and Aldo.
The visiting Parliamentarians were reportedly staying at a military hotel in Dakhla, known for normally only hosting higher Moroccan army officials. Local sources state that the delegation was being transported around by Moroccan government cars, accompanied by the secret service.
Morocco has illegally occupied parts of Western Sahara since 1975. According to the UN, natural resource activity cannot take place in Western Sahara unless it is according to the wishes and interests of the Saharawi people. The EU has never tried to ascertain whether their past operations fulfilled these criteria.
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.
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.
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