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Saharawi fishermen boarded foreign trawler in protest

A group of unemployed Saharawi fishermen is said to have chained themselves to a foreign owned trawler in the harbour of Dakhla, protesting the plunder of their country.
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In the night of 23 April 2012, 25 fishermen denounced their economic marginalisation in occupied Western Sahara, by boarding the Swedish operated vessel ‘Meya’ in the harbour of Dakhla, according to local sources.

WSRW has spoken to people on the ground in Dakhla, who unanimously confirmed that the fishermen had boarded the vessel, and had chained themselves to the ship’s deck in protest of their systematic exclusion from being employed on fishing vessels. The demonstration illustrates the frustration over Morocco’s ongoing exploitation of the native soil and waters of the territory it illegally occupies. WSRW has not received footage of the protest.

The Moroccan military subsequently arrived at the scene to remove the protesters from the vessel. Saharawi human rights activists based in Dakhla have before signalled the increasing military presence in Dakhla, in preparation of a visit by the Moroccan king Mohamed VI to the occupied city. After allegedly blocking the ship for 13 hours, the group of protesters agreed to leave the boat if they’d get a chance to discuss their grievances with the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture. A meeting between the fishermen and government officials took place on 25 April at the local office of aforementioned Ministry. It is not known to WSRW what came out of the meeting.

The Belize-flagged Meya (IMO: 8616142) has since January 2012 been operated and managed by Swedish company Swemar AB, in turn controlled by the Swedish Kjellberg family. In April 2009, members of the same group were charged in a Swedish court for fisheries activities offshore Western Sahara in violation of Swedish laws, with other vessels that they have operated in the same controversial waters. The case has been repeatedly postponed.

The company Pesa Consorcio Ltd is registered owner of the Meya trawler. Pesa Consorcio Ltd is registered in Morocco and was established in 2011, but works from the C/O address of the Swedish managers in Västra Frölunda, Sweden. Sources in Western Sahara, say that the captain of the vessel was named Hilmar Snorrason, and that the vessel was manned with two Swedish and 16 Moroccan crew members.

The Saharawi fishermen based in Dakhla claim that the fish stored at the Meya had been obtained through deals with Moroccan generals and businessmen, who control the fishing sector in occupied Western Sahara. “71% of the catches on board of the ship came from Abdelaziz Bennani. And the remaining 29% were bought from the Moroccan Kabbage business-group”, says one of the fishermen, who prefers to remain anonymous. WSRW has seen no proof that documents that claim.

The Moroccan newspaper Akhbar al Youm recently published a list of the principal possessors of fishing licenses. Heading that list was Military Inspector General and Army Commander, Lieutenant General Abdelaziz Bennani. A telegram sent to Washington in 2008 by then U.S. ambassador to Morocco, Thomas Riley, already hinted upon Bennani’s business, according to Wikileaks-cable 08 Rabat 727. "Credible reports indicate that Lt Gen Benanni is using his position as the Commander of the Southern Sector to skim money from military contracts and influence business decisions. A widely believed rumor has it that he owns large parts of the fisheries in Western Sahara. Benanni, like many senior military officers, has a lavish family home that was likely built with money gleaned from bribes. Leadership positions in regional sectors are a significant source of extralegal income for military leaders. "

Just 9 days before the protest, the Moroccan Ministry for Fisheries and Agriculture had distributed new fishing licenses to investors installed in occupied Western Sahara, with the objective to sell them to European companies as an alternative source of income to the EU-Morocco fish accord, rejected by the European Parliament on 14 December 2011. Among the beneficiaries of the new licensing hand-out, was the Kabbage imperium.





15.10 - 2019 / 15.10 - 2019THIS PAGE IS NO LONGER UPDATED
23.10 - 2015 / 23.10 - 2015Morocco continues to discard by-catches in occupied Western Sahara
29.06 - 2015 / 29.06 - 2015Moroccan government accused of fraud with EU anti-driftnet money
02.12 - 2014 / 02.12 - 2014Maria Damanaki opposed continued EU fishing in Western Sahara
18.09 - 2014 / 18.09 - 2014EU-Morocco fish deal: who's shown an interest so far?
18.09 - 2014 / 18.09 - 2014Dutch first to fish under unethical EU-Morocco fish deal
09.08 - 2014 / 09.08 - 2014UN former legal chief slams EU legal view as "preposterous"
21.07 - 2014 / 21.07 - 2014Illegal EU fish agreement with Morocco now ratified by King
14.03 - 2014 / 14.03 - 20149 detained, threats of jail if demonstrating against EU fisheries
11.02 - 2014 / 11.02 - 2014Here are the EU states that will benefit from the dirty fisheries
11.02 - 2014 / 11.02 - 2014Morocco adopts contentious EU-Morocco fish deal
10.12 - 2013 / 10.12 - 2013Occupied Sahara: EU undermining Human Rights on Human Rights Day
08.12 - 2013 / 08.12 - 2013More vids of demonstration and victims of EU/Moroccan plans in Sahara
08.12 - 2013 / 08.12 - 2013Western Sahara president asks UN intervention to stop EU and Morocco
08.12 - 2013 / 08.12 - 2013Many injured in protest against EU/Spain fish plans in Western Sahara
05.12 - 2013 / 05.12 - 2013EU fish plans illegal, 21 jurists and lawyers state
05.12 - 2013 / 05.12 - 2013267 organisations ask European Parliament to reject fish accord
04.12 - 2013 / 04.12 - 2013President of African Parliament calls on EU to respect Sahara rights
02.12 - 2013 / 02.12 - 2013Greenpeace: EU parliament must vote no to Western Sahara fisheries
18.11 - 2013 / 18.11 - 2013European Liberal Youth calls for no EU fishing in occupied Sahara


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.
عريضة لوقف النهب


يحضر الاتحاد الاوربي لإبرام اتفاق غير اخلاقي جديد للصيد البحري مع المغرب في سنة 2013.

مرة اخرى، يعتزم الاتحاد الاوربي الصيد في المياه الاقليمية للصحراء الغربية المحتلة في خرق سافر للقانون الدولي. وقع هذه العريضة للتنديد بذلك.

"EU fisheries in Western Sahara must be stopped"

Western Sahara human rights activist Aminatou Haidar hopes for increased attention to the EU plundering of occupied Western Sahara.


10.04 - 2012
Guardian: EU taking its over-fishing habits to west African waters?
15.12 - 2011
EU Observer: Morocco expels EU fishing boats
15.12 - 2011
BBC News: Morocco's fish fight: High stakes over Western Sahara
15.12 - 2011
European Voice: MEPs reject EU-Morocco fisheries pact
15.12 - 2011
Reuters: EU lawmakers reject Morocco fisheries pact

Human rights activist Malak Amidane denounces EU fisheries