Russia signs new fisheries deal for occupied Western Sahara
The Russian and Moroccan governments on 15 March 2016 announced the renewing of their fisheries agreement, allowing Russian trawlers fish in occupied Western Sahara. WSRW has translated the agreement from Russian to English.
Published 13 June 2016

The Russian government has renewed its illegal and controversial fisheries agreement with the Moroccan government. The agreement allows the Russian fleet to operate in occupied Western Sahara, in violation of international law. As occupying power of Western Sahara, Morocco has no right to sign such an agreement with another state.

The agreement can be seen on the Russian government website [or download]

The new fisheries agreement replaces the one that was signed by Morocco and Russia on 14 February 2013.

Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) has translated the new agreement into English. Our translation is made with track changes, each change illustrating the difference between the 2013 and 2016 agreements.

In 2013, WSRW published the previous agreement together with our inofficial translation, highlighting that the agreement specifically stated that it was to be applied within Morocco's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). However, Morocco has never laid an EEZ claim to the waters that the agreement was effectively applied to. Yet, the Russian fleet has now operated in those waters, outside of Morocco's EEZ, for three years.

The bizarre formulation regarding Morocco's EEZ has now been changed into "maritime space where the Kingdom of Morocco exercises sovereign rights and (or) jurisdiction". From the perspective of international law, Morocco exercises neither in occupied Western Sahara.

The new agreement covers a volume of 140,000 tonnes of fish annually. Payments by the shipowners to the Moroccan government is calculated at 17.5% of the total value of fish goods, calculated on the basis of book prices (in U.S. dollars) per ton of following types of finished fish products: Frozen fish products at $ 596; bycatch at $1344; fish flour at $1176 and fish oil at $ 1008.

See also this coverage about the signing of the new agreement:
  • Statement from Russian government, 15 March 2016, on government website, or download.
  • Annex to Russian government statement, 15 March 2016, on government website, or download.
  • Prom Weekly, website or download.
  • Statement from Russian ministry of Fisheries, 15 March 2016, website or download.
  • Fish News, 15 March 2016, website of download.

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