Efe: MEPs call to exclude Western Sahara from fisheries agreement
A group of MEPs, including Spanish Raul Romeva (Iniciativa per Catalunya-The Greens) today called on the European Parliament (EP), to exclude the waters of the Sahara of the fishing agreement between the European Union (EU) and Morocco. EFE (ABC), 5 October 2010.
The MEPs stated that the fisheries agreement between the EU and the North African country, which expires in March 2011, should not be renewed if it includes the Western Saharan waters, as is currently the case. The MEPs insisted that there should be a link between fishing and respect for human rights and stressed that the agreement is not benefiting the Saharawi population, although the EU fleet is operating alongside their coasts.
To illustrate this claim, MEPs had invited the Saharawi refugee Rabab Amidane to explain the situation in Western Sahara and to give a testimony about abuse by the Moroccan police. Additionally, a documentary was presented on the use of fish from the Saharawi waters for the production of industrial oils in Norway and Sweden, taking advantage of the agreement and without the benefit of local populations.
Participants: Swedish Lövin Isabella (The Greens), France Eva Joly (Green), Carl Haglund, Raul Romeva, Italian Guido Milana (socialist) and the Portuguese Joao Ferreira (European United Left).
The agreement between the EU and Morocco is of great political importance and allows 119 European ships to fish in these waters, out of which one hundred are Spanish. In return, the EU annually pays Morocco 36.1 million Euros; a part of this sum is earmarked for the national fisheries sector and the remainder is allocated for development measures.
At present, the European Commission is still waiting for Morocco to submit the information requested on the current fisheries agreement, attesting how the agreement is benefiting the people of Western Sahara. But Rabat has still not submitted such data and uncertainty remains as the agreement ends in March 2011 and there are at present no formal talks or time-table to sign a new one.
Before the summer, Brussels had indicated that the decision to renew or not the commitment was pending reports.
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.