The Irish government has stated that there is no adequate evidence that the EU-Morocco FPA has benefitted Western Sahara. This was noted by Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, on 25 May 2011.
“Ireland has been clear that our final decision would be influenced by whether it can be persuasively shown that there is appropriate benefit deriving to the Saharawi people through implementation of the FPA. Therefore, our position on the ratification of the one year protocol remains reserved, as the Commission’s analysis of the information provided by the Moroccan side on the regional benefits has not been unequivocal. While citing that positive benefits were in evidence in the regional distribution of funds including to the Western Sahara, the level of those benefits remain uncertain”, the Minister stated.
“Ireland is also of the view that the FPA with Morocco should be implemented if it can be shown to be to the benefit of all the people concerned (including the Saharawi, in relation to the waters off Western Sahara) and in full accordance with the principles of international law. I am not convinced that this is the case at present and will consider very carefully Ireland’s final position on ratification of the one year protocol when a formal proposal comes from the Commission.”
The Minister's statement came in reply to a question by parliamentarian Gerry Adams (Sinn Féin); “To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will vote against the protocol related to the controversial EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement that will be tabled for the considerations of the Council on 27 April 2011 in Brussels.”
Furthermore, Minister Coveney told the Parliament that “no Irish fishing vessels have operated in Morocco under this FPA since 2007”. This in reply to a question by parliamentarian Peadar Tóibín (Sinn Féin); “To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason Ireland continues to support several Irish fishing vessels that are currently operating in the over-exploited and disputed waters off the coast of western Sahara; and if he will make a statement on the matter.”
In 2002, the UN legal counsel concluded that natural resource activity in Western Sahara is in violation of international law if the Saharawi’s wishes and benefits are not taken into account.
More than 100 UN resolutions, and the International court of justice, have noted the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and, consequently, the right to sovereignty over their natural resources. In 2010, the Court reiterated the right of colonized (non-self-governing) peoples to self-determination, in its advisory opinion on Kosovo’s independence.
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.