Press release FISHERY AGREEMENT BETWEEN EUROPEAN UNION AND MOROCCO ILLEGAL European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights 9 February 2011 See release here (pdf).
Beside the coast of Western Sahara - which is illegally occupied by Morocco - fishing vessels from member states of the EU are taking part in the exploitation of the fishery resources. The Fishery Partnership Agreement between the EU and Morocco - which has to be renewed regularly - serves as a justification. The agreement is written in a way that it mentions only the fishery resources of Morocco, but does not exclude explicitly the fishing grounds of Western Sahara. Since the Moroccan Government – ignoring innumerable UN Security Council resolutions and the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice – considers Western Sahara as Moroccan territory, the agreement is understood by both sides in a way that it includes the Western Sahara fishing grounds. The current agreement will expire at the end of February 2011.
A legal opinion of the legal service of the European Parliament which was published in 2010 states that the present fishery activities beside the coast of Western Sahara are illegal, in particular due to the status of Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory within the meaning of Article 73a of the UN Charter.
The legal service recommends therefore to stop fishing activities in this region unless they are based on a fishery agreement which complies with international law, and to take into consideration the wishes and interests of the Sahrawi people in the consultations with Morocco, and either explicitly to enlarge the region of application of the agreement, or to interrupt its application.
Therefore ELDH demands from the European Union - not to be an accomplice of the Moroccan Government by illegally exploiting the fishery grounds beside the coast of Western Sahara - in case of a prolongation of the fishery agreement, to exclude the fishing grounds beside the coast of Western Sahara and to negotiate a separate agreement about these fishing grounds with the political representatives of the Sahrawi people. - In case the European Union – in spite of the legal reservations – wishes to renew the fishery agreement with Morocco, this should only happen after the Sahrawi people have had the opportunity to present their interests, wishes and conditions in the negotiations and only if it is guaranteed that the payment of the European Union for the exploitation of the fishing grounds benefits the Sahrawi people - To proceed with all other agreements and measures for economic development of Morocco which concern the natural resources of Western Sahara in a smilar way.
All future agreements between the European Union and Morocco should take place under the following conditions - that the Moroccan Government fully applies the Resolutions of the UN Security Council concerning a referendum of the Sahrawi people about the future political status of Western Sahara, and that Morocco no longer prevents the exercise of the right to self-determination by the Sahrawi people - that the Moroccan Government respects the human rights of the people living in the zone of Western Sahara which is occupied by Morocco, in particular the rights protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - that the Moroccan Government must prosecute the perpetrators of human rights violations and releases all political prisoners
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.