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Maria Damanaki opposed continued EU fishing in Western Sahara
A document leaked by a Moroccan whistleblower indicates that former EU Commissioner for Fisheries did not want to renew the fisheries agreement with Morocco due to human rights violations in Western Sahara, but was allegedly pushed by the Head of the Commission, José Manuel Barroso.
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The @chris_coleman24 twitter account keeps leaking official Moroccan documents. Today, it released a dispatch from Edward Gabriel, dated 10 May 2010, to the highest echelons of the Moroccan government, detailing what is described to be a conversation of one of Gabriel’s allies with Carmen Fraga Estevez, then head of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee.

Edward Gabriel, a former US Ambassador to Morocco, runs a Washington based lobby-firm that has the Moroccan government as a client since 2002. According to records filed under the US Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), Gabriel’s firm has been paid more than US $ 3,7 million in order to advance Morocco’s agenda in the United States alone.

At the time of the abovementioned conversation, the European Commission had presented the European Parliament with a proposal to extend the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA) with one year. In the dispatch, Carmen Fraga is quoted as believing that this is “the maximum that can be achieved” because “a revision of the Fishery agreement with Morocco is very unlikely”.

Fraga is said to have cited several reasons, one being that the EU Commissioner for Fisheries at the time, Maria Damanaki, “is not willing [...] to get a new Fishery Agreement with Morocco. Ms Fraga told me that the President of the Commission [José Manuel Barroso, comment from WSRW] pushed Mrs Damanaki to extend the Protocol with one year. Commissioner Damanaki cites alleged violations of human rights by the Moroccan government”.

Carmen Fraga allegedly went on to say that the European Parliament’s rapporteur on the file, “Mr Haglund from the ALDE political group, the liberals, is not in favour of the extension of the Protocol and Commissioner Damanaki is not helpful either. Nevertheless, Mrs Fraga expects some pressure from the President of the Commission and believes that a small majority in favour of extending the Protocol may be mobilized”.

Carmen Fraga allegedly also gave lobby-advice to Gabriel’s informant, explaining which groups to influence.

Equally remarkable is how convinced Carmen Fraga appeared to be, according to Gabriel's anonymous source, by the Moroccan government’s position on Western Sahara. “Opponents claim that Morocco is not respecting human rights of the Saharan people and not supporting the Saharan people financially. Mrs Fraga is not persuaded by this argument. She accepts the position of the Moroccan government that everybody who lives in Western Sahara belongs to the Saharan people. The Moroccan government can prove it spends a lot of money on improvements of ports in the Western Sahara, together with EU money”.

That “proof” was a short powerpoint presentation, presenting Morocco’s plans to reform its fishing sector, provided at repeated insistence by the European Commission in 2010. However, the Commission had not requested a presentation of Morocco's plans, but rather a detailed document that would unequivocally prove how the Saharawis benefitted from Morocco’s fisheries agreement with the EU.

The Commission's request was yet another example of the its grave misinterpretation of the UN Legal Opinion on economic activities in Western Sahara, which concludes that such activities must be in accordance to the wishes and the interests of the Saharawi people. The Commission, choosing to ignore the Saharawi’s right to self-determination, solely chose to focus on the potential benefits. Furthermore, the Commission deemed it appropriate to ask Morocco, the occupying regime, to produce a report to demonstrate how its theft of the Saharawis’ resources were actually to their benefit. A practice which was slammed by the author of the UN Legal Opinion, Ambassador Hans Corell, as yet another misuse of his work.

However, Morocco – offended that it had to prove how it spent EU money in “its southern provinces” – did not present such any documentation for a very long time. After repeated requests from the European Commission, Morocco finally produced on 13 December 2010 a 44 page powerpoint presentation which did not even answer the original question. Instead, it gave some general information on port development plans in Morocco and Western Sahara, even failing to make the distinction between the two territories.

In December 2011, the European Parliament rejected the proposed one year extension of the EU-Morocco FPA.

WSRW has not confronted the persons quoted in the leak.


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