Western Sahara fishing: Morocco plays hide and seek with EU
When an unofficial delegation from the European Parliament visited Dakhla city in occupied Western Sahara, the Moroccan government pulled the foreign flagged European fleet out of the harbour. After hiding 8 km offshore Dakhla for a day, the vessels returned (video).
A group of European Parliamentarians visited yesterday the town of Dakhla in occupied Western Sahara in the context of lobbying for continued EU fisheries in the territory that Morocco has illegally occupied.
A Saharawi fisherman from Dakhla says European vessels, currently fishing in southern Western Sahara under non-European flags, were in a place called 'La Sarga', some 8 km out of Dakhla harbour, during the Parliamentarians' visit. The delegation is said to have only stayed at the port for 15 minutes, during which only Moroccan fishermen were allowed to enter the premises.
From what Western Sahara Resource Watch has been told, the entire fleet of private industrial vessels was pulled out of the harbour before the MEPs' arrival to the port yesterday early afternoon.
After the Parliamentarians had left town, the vessels returned. The video was filmed shortly after their return.
Saharawi fishermen committees tried to meet with members of the delegation, but state to have been hindered by the Moroccan police forces in Dakhla.
A European owned fishing fleet is currently present in Western Sahara, fishing under various Caribbean flags of convencience. The video shows the Swedish owned vessels Meya and Aldo.
The visiting Parliamentarians were reportedly staying at a military hotel in Dakhla, known for normally only hosting higher Moroccan army officials. Local sources state that the delegation was being transported around by Moroccan government cars, accompanied by the secret service.
Morocco has illegally occupied parts of Western Sahara since 1975. According to the UN, natural resource activity cannot take place in Western Sahara unless it is according to the wishes and interests of the Saharawi people. The EU has never tried to ascertain whether their past operations fulfulled these criteria.
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.