Russian fleet signed 100.000 tonnes from occupied Western Sahara
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Russian media reports today that an agreement has been signed between Moscow and Rabat for catch of 100.000 tonnes of fish offshore Morocco. Most of the fisheries, however, will not take place in Morocco.

Published 10 June 2011

The current fisheries agreement between Morocco and the Russian Federation was signed in June 2010. The agreement, which is designed for 2 years, states that fisheries can take place in Morocco’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Most of the fisheries, however, are taking place in Western Saharan waters, which are not part of Morocco’s EEZ.

The Russian fish news service Atlantniro reports today that the quotas for the Russian vessels for the year 2011 have now been set. A session of the Joint Russian-Moroccan Fisheries Committee in Rabat concluded to allow 10 Russian industrial fishing vessels to catch 100.000 tonnes of fish for 2011. From what WSRW has learnt, the 100.000 tonnes are split into 10 parts, allowing each vessels to catch 10.000 tonnes. Murmansk Trawl Fleet is believed to have 5 of the 10 vessels under the agreement. 

In comparison, the EU’s agreement with Morocco covers 60.000 tonnes of industrial fisheries.

“Due to the sharp reduction in quotas of blue whiting in the northeast Atlantic, [this agreement] becomes all the more important for us. Of course, we had hoped for a quota in the volume of 160-200 thousand tonnes”, stated today Vladimir Gorbachev, president of the Kaliningrad company Vesterybflot, who took part in the negotiations with Morocco. 

In a Joint-Committee meeting in St.Petersburg in April this year, Russia first suggested 160-200.000 tonnes, a volume that thus has been turned down by the Moroccan party. 

Morocco has illegally occupied Western Sahara since 1975, and has never laid claim over the EEZ over the fish-rich Western Sahara waters in which the Russian trawlers are now fishing. The Saharawi people has the right to express its consent over such agreements, according to the UN. This right is ignored both by Russia and Morocco. The Russian-Moroccan agreement is thus in violation of international law. 

A study made in 2008 found that 1 out of 4 Saharawi children suffer from malnutrition, mainly due to lack of protein.

Western Sahara Resource Watch sent letters to president Medvedev on 27 May 2009 and 9 April 2010. None of them have been replied to.

Read WSRW's unofficial translation of the Russian-Moroccan fisheries agreement here. 

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