Western Sahara Resource Watch has received videos of the vessel Buland, involved in an operation of allegedly dumping "tonnes of fish" offshore occupied Western Sahara.
The fisheries practice is controversial in itself, as the trawler is fishing in the occupied territories of Western Sahara under a Moroccan licence and flag, even though no state in the world recognise the territory as being part of Morocco. In addition to the political, ethical and legal aspects of such Moroccan fisheries offshore the territory they hold under military occupation, there are serious environmental aspects to the management of the stocks.
The vessel in the video, 'Buland', has a licence to fish sardines. So what happens when one gets the fish species not part of the quota? Well, they would dump it overboard. According to the sources that sent WSRW the videos, the vessel dumped 'tonnes' of fish this day, including the fish species sea bream. The video was shot some five months ago, in the waters offshore the city of Dakhla.
This is not the first time that amateur videos document severe mismanagement of the fishing stocks offshore the occupied territories, committed by a vessel owned by an ex-general. In 2013, WSRW published photos of the vessel Adrar, owned by another Moroccan general, which had dumped 1000 tonnes of fish that year overboard. The role of Moroccan armed forces in the fisheries sector is elaborated in this leaked 2008 cable from the US embassy.
Fish are also sometimes dumped as garbage on land, see images here from 2013 and from last year. WSRW also published discards of fish in 2012. Half people of Western Sahara live as refugees in the Algerian desert, following the Moroccan occupation, depending on humanitarian aid.
The vessel Buland was originally Norwegian owned (named Røttingøy at the time), but sold from Dales Rederi AS to Western Sahara in 2011. It has IMO number 7713010 and is currently located in the port of Dakhla. In 2012-2013 it was managed by Icelandic company Neptune. Greenpeace did a report “Exporting Exploitation” in 2013 documenting the flow of vessels from Northern Europe to 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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