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Ireland unsatisfied by Moroccan fish report

“I am not satisfied” Irish fisheries minister stated to Irish TV on the report that Morocco has provided to the EU. The information that the Moroccan government presented regarding the benefits that the Saharawi people gain from the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement mentions no word on the Saharawi people, nor Western Sahara.
Printer version    
During a vote in the European Council in June, the Irish government surprisingly voted in favour of a highly controversial fisheries agreement, in which Morocco is paid EU funds to allow Spanish fishermen to fish in waters which are not Moroccan.

Many had thought that Ireland, with its history of occupation, would join the other northern European governments in rejecting the EU agreement to illegally fish in Western Sahara, a territory occupied by Morocco since 1975.

The agreement is in violation of international law, according to the opinions of the European Parliament’s legal services and the former UN under-secretary general for legal affairs. The latter has stated that even asking the Moroccan government of a report on how the Saharawi people are benefiting in the first place is "unacceptable". The ones consulted should be the Saharawis themselves, both the former UN expert and the European Parliament underlines.

Spain and France, however, pressed for the fisheries agreement that gives Spanish vessels access to fish in Western Saharan waters.

The agreement is furthermore controversial since it constitutes a financial loss for the European Union, according to a confidential evaluation by the Commission, and is considered both by Spain and Morocco to be mostly a political agreement supporting Morocco.

Ireland’s most watched current affairs programme Primetime on public service broadcaster RTE, 4 August 2011, confronted the Irish government on how they could vote in favour of the agreement.  

"To be honest, I am not satisfied with the level of that information, and that is why I am only offering conditional support until next February for the extension of the agreement on the basis of making a very strong declaration with Germany and Slovenia which puts pressure on the Commission to actually gather their own information within Western Sahara on whether or not there is sufficient benefit for the Western Saharawi people", stated Simon Coveney, Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

President of the Irish Labour Party, Michael D. Higgins, is highly critical.

"There is a very clear legal position as to the circumstances in which development can take place in contested, disputed and occupied areas, and I feel this was ignored. I am very convinced myself that the original decision of the European Union […] is without any kind of secure legal basis within the European Union itself", Mr. Higgins stated.

European Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, was also interviewed in the report.

"I have discussed this issue, and I have realised that there is widespread disagreement about the real benefits of this fisheries agreement for Western Sahara", stated Damanaki, who originally suggested that the EU fisheries would not take place in Western Sahara.

Morocco occupied Western Sahara in 1975 and forced a majority of the population into exile, while it sells its natural resources to foreign governments in violation of the advice from the UN.


News archive:
01.12 - 20117 Dec: Conference on EU fisheries in European Parliament
24.11 - 2011Parliament committee approves Morocco fisheries deal
07.11 - 2011Two EU Parliament committees reject EU-Morocco Fish Pact
06.11 - 2011Bastagli: Europe turns its back on the Arab Spring's forgotten nation
03.11 - 2011Sharks in danger of extinction in Western Sahara
24.10 - 2011Scottish fishing sector favours illegal fisheries in occupied waters
11.10 - 2011Budget rapporteur calls for rejection of fish pact
10.10 - 2011Development rapporteur urges Parliament to thumb down fish deal
04.10 - 2011Commission criticised over handling of Morocco agreement
24.09 - 2011Fisheries rapporteur recommends end to EU-Morocco fish pact
07.09 - 2011Divisive Fish Pact possibly referred to European Court of Justice
01.09 - 2011MEPs' disappointment with fisheries agreement with Morocco
08.08 - 2011Ireland unsatisfied by Moroccan fish report
13.07 - 2011EU Council and Morocco sign extension illegal fish pact


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