Through planning a Fisheries Agreement with Morocco from 2013, the EU gives an unfortunate political support to Morocco's claims over Western Sahara. In this way, the EU can be seen as taking a position in the conflict, siding with Morocco's illegal annexation of the neighbouring country.
The interests behind the European fisheries in occupied Western Sahara, have on occasions come with clear political statements supporting the illegal Moroccan presence in the territory.
After the signing the previous Agreement, for instance, EU’s chief negotiator for the fisheries agreement, Mr. César Deben, stated that Western Sahara waters were “under Moroccan administration”. He said this had been the case since the so-called Madrid Accords.
This was stated in stark contrast to the facts of international law and the foreign policies of all EU member states.
The Madrid Accords, in which Spain ceded its former colony Spanish Sahara to Morocco and Mauritania, was invalid, something which was reaffirmed by the UN legal office in 2002.
The same negotiator stated that the fisheries agreement was not an act of politics.
“It is a polemic that tries to take political advantage of the media interest of an agreement”, Mr. Deben stated. He denied that the agreement had political implications.
But these evident political implications of the EU-Moroccan fisheries agreement have even been admitted by the Moroccan government itself.
“The financial aspect [of the Fisheries Agreement] is not necessarily the most important aspect of this agreement. The political aspect is just as important”, said Morocco's fisheries minister in 2006. [or download].
Polisario Front and Morocco now try to negotiate a solution to the conflict, in a context where Morocco refuses to accept a referendum for independence. The management of the territory’s natural resources is even placed on the negotiating table by the UN Special Envoy to the conflict.
In this situation, the FishElsewhere! campaign believes it is highly inappropriate if the EU chooses to give a sign of political support to the Moroccan position by paying the country money for fishing in the disputed territory.
Through this cooperation, the EU is working against the UN's efforts to decolonise Western Sahara, and contributing to the continued insecurity and instability in the region.
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.