The m.v. Franziska , a 6,900 tonne capacity stern trawler, has been spotted fishing southwest off Dakhla since last weekend. The vessel is owned and operated by the Dutch company W. van der Zwan & Zn B.V., which in turn is part of the Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA).
In December 2011, the European Parliament rejected a proposed prolongation of the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement, following reports on its damaging ecological impact, financial loss to the Union and concerns over its compatibility with international law for failing to exclude Western Sahara from its scope. Accordingly, EU fishing in Morocco and Western Sahara ceased.
But a new agreement - reviewing EU borne expenses of the deal yet failing to address the ecological and legal obstacles - was aproved by the European Parliament in December 2013. The king of Morocco ratified the agreement in July this year.
The Saharawi people, ironically once regarded as Spanish citizens during Spain's colonisation of their land, were never consulted on the EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement, and have consistently voiced their opposition to the deal. Several Saharawis were injured by Moroccan police as they protested against the European Parliament's decision to approve the fisheries protocol for their occupied waters.
The EU considers to pay Morocco to fish in occupied Western Sahara. An EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement from 2013 would be both politically controversial and in violation of international law.
The international Fish Elsewhere! campaign demands the EU to avoid such unethical operations, and go fishing somewhere else. No fishing in Western Sahara should take place until the conflict is solved.