Saharawi fishermen oppose looming EU-Morocco fish deal
Article image

In the coming months, the European Union will decide whether or not to agree to the newly proposed fisheries accord with Morocco, allowing EU vessels to access Western Sahara's waters. The Saharawi fishermen speak out against the deal: “The agreement is an act of theft and a serious threat to the environment”. Read their official statement here.

Published 30 August 2013

Photo: A truck transporting sardines from Dakhla to Morocco proper, was pushed over during protests by the Saharawi fishermen near the harbour at the end of May 2013.


We, The associations Nawras, Kandil and Sahrawis Fishermen from Dakhla city (Western Sahara) denounce Protocol of the the Morocco-EU Fisheries Partnership Agreement signed on Wednesday, 24 July, in Rabat, which does not avoid the illegal practice of fishing in the Sahrawi waters. We consider this is a fraud purposely drafted to allow the null and void practices of fishing in the Sahrawi waters whose only owner are the people of Western Sahara.

“This agreement doesn’t respect the international legality, doesn’t respect the damaged environmental status of the region because of over-exploitation, doesn’t respect the political will of the Sahrawi people, and doesn’t respect the position expressed by the only UN recognized representative of the Saharawi people, Polisario Front. We wonder what Mrs. Maria Damanaki, was doing in Rabat, signing an agreement with a State that holds no legal sovereignty over Western Sahara to allow a fraudulent exploitation of the WS resources? Isn’t this a bare act of buying stolen goods?” .

We are considering that the European act is not only a violation of the international law, “it is further a violation of the human rights of the people of this territory, recognized in Article 1 of the Covenants of Civil and Political Rights and Social, Economic and Cultural Rights ratified by all the EU member States as well as the Moroccan State, insofar this Agreement does not avoid the practice of exploitation of our resources. 

The Agreement opens the door to an illegal practice violating the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea,ratified by all the EU Member States, as well as the Moroccan State. The Agreement does not prevent violations of the UN International Law regarding the non-self-governing territories insofar it opens a fraudulent door to the fishing in the Western Sahara because it does not stop the well documented Moroccan practice of asking foreign investors to establish in our occupied land. This Agreement does not pay consideration to the practices of corruption concerning the fishing activities in the Western Sahara. This Agreement offers no real guarantee that the money of the European citizens will profit the Moroccan and the Sahrawi Peoples, instead of the Moroccan ruling elite.

We also condemn the Spanish government’s position, who does not hide its intent to apply this Agreement to the Western Sahara waters. The economic situation and crisis in Spain, is used as a cynical argument to pretend that this agreement will help the Spanish economy notwithstanding that this agreement offers more employment opportunities to Moroccan population even that to Spanish one. The position of Spain is a violation of the economic content of our right to self-determination after the violation of our political right to self-determination with the illegal "Madrid Agreement" of 1975 and the blind eye to the massive human rights violations perpetrated by the Kingdom of Morocco in the Western Sahara territory following its invasion.

We further call on all the international actors, and specially the EU Member States and the European Parliament and all its Parliamentary groups without distinction, to stand firm in front of this new dishonorable act of disrespect to the Law embodied in the Treaty of the European Union as well as to the internationally recognized rights of the Sahrawi people and its feelings and dignity. We ask the international community, and specially the governments of the EU Member States and the European Parliament to hear the voice of the Sahrawi people, expressed even risking imprisonment and tortures to protest against this systematic, and shameful plunder of their fishing resources, phosphate, sand, land, culture and the future of their younger generations.

The new Protocol is a door open to the theft of the riches of the Sahrawi people as well as a a serious threat to the environment because of the increased number of boats allowed to plunder more and more fishing resources in Western Sahara.

Finally, we call the attention of all the European consumers, as well as the European authorities to warn them that they are being systematically deceived insofar more than 60% of what is labeled as "Moroccan" fishing products are actually coming from the occupied territory of this last colony in Africa.

Here is the EU Council's legal advice on fishing in occupied waters

Before voting on the new EU-Morocco fish deal in 2018, extending into occupied Western Sahara, several EU Member States asked for legal advice that would determine their vote. WSRW today publishes that influential legal opinion, which appears to miss the ball entirely.
05 March 2020

Hans Corell criticizes EU fisheries in Western Sahara

The former Legal Counsel to the UN Security Counsel, Mr. Hans Corell, comments on the EU's fisheries activities in Western Sahara.

20 November 2019

EU Court reaffirms position on Western Sahara

Polisario has a case, but it should be pursued when the time is right, Court implies.

28 February 2019

European Parliament disregards Court and adopts Morocco fish deal

Notwithstanding four consecutive rulings of the EU's highest Court calling such a practice illegal, the European Parliament has just now voted in favour of the EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement that will be applied to the waters of occupied Western Sahara.

12 February 2019