MEP seeks Scottish Executive approval for Western Sahara rights

FishUpdate, 18 May 2006.

Published 18 May 2006
18 May 2006.

SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP wrote to Scottish Fisheries Minister Ross Finnie yesterday, urging him to give backing to the people of Western Sahara at a forthcoming meeting of the EU Fisheries Council. It is anticipated that the Fisheries Council of 22nd May will approve an agreement allowing EU vessels to fish in waters under Moroccan control. There are fears that this could include waters belonging to the occupied territory of Western Sahara - and it has been reported that both Finland and Sweden intend to table declarations to the effect that Western Saharan rights must be respected.

Mr Hudghton stated: "There are grave concerns that the proposed EU-Morocco fisheries agreement could allow the illegal exploitation of Western Saharan resources. This runs contrary to the principle of self-determination - a principle which is a fundamental right.

"I am urging Ross Finnie to give backing to Western Sahara\'s plight. The UK government has so far been less than sympathetic to Western Sahara and has rejected calls to exclude their waters from the agreement. Nevertheless, the Scottish Executive is not obliged to follow the London line - and Ross Finnie should seek to use the influence he claims to have at Fisheries Councils.

"The European Parliament has this week demanded that the agreement with Morocco be suspended should evidence arise that it is being used to illegally fish in Western Saharan waters. Ross Finnie must back this call - and ensure that the UK government takes heed."

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