WSRW calls on Medvedev to halt Russian fisheries
Western Sahara Resource Watch asked today the government of Russia to halt fisheries offshore occupied Western Sahara, and make sure that their up-coming fisheries agreement with Morocco specifically excludes the occupied territory. WSRW has repeatedly found Russian fishing vessels in the disputed waters.
Published: 26.05 - 2009 17:26Printer version    
A letter similar to the one below, was also sent to the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sergey Lavrov.

President Dmitry Medvedev
Ilinka Str, No 23
103132, Moscow
The Russian Federation

Melbourne, 27 May 2009

Dear President
Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) wishes to express serious concern about the current Russian-Moroccan fisheries cooperation, and the next Fisheries Partnership Agreement which, as we understand, is currently being renegotiated.

Our organisation, represented in more than 30 countries, working in solidarity with the Sahrawi people, has in recent years been following with great concern the repeated presence of Russian trawlers in occupied waters offshore Western Sahara, as well as numerous transports of fisheries products from Western Sahara to Russian ports.

The Government of the Russian Federation should know well that Western Sahara is treated by the UN as a Non-Self-Governing Territory, simultaneously as being illegally occupied by Morocco. While there can be no objection to Morocco granting Russia access to fishing in Moroccan waters, activities of Russian vessels in the unlawfully held territorial waters of Western Sahara are in violation of international law and undermine UN-led attempts to bring selfdetermination to the people of the territory and lasting peace to the region.

Ever since Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975, the UN has repeatedly called for the decolonization of the territory, which it both labels as occupied and annexed. Moreover, the International Court of Justice has rejected the Moroccan claims of sovereignty over the territory. No country in the world recognizes Moroccan claims to Western Sahara, and Morocco is in no position to exploit the Territory’s resources without the permission of the Sahrawi people or their internationally recognized representatives.

The Sahrawi people’s right to self-determination includes, inter alia, the right of permanent sovereignty over its natural resources. Permanent sovereignty over natural resources is a customary principle of international law.

Morocco has never laid claim to the waters adjacent to Western Sahara. Therefore, it is not in a position to offer fisheries licenses to Russia in respect of these waters. Moreover, any such fisheries are in direct violation of the ‘Law No. 03/2009 of 21 January 2009 Establishing the Maritime Zones of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR)’ (‘Law No. 03/2009’), which has the effect of establishing and defining with legal clarity the maritime zones of the SADR in accordance with international law, including a 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone.

As former UN Legal Counsel Corell stated,

Under all circumstances I would have thought that it was obvious that an agreement of this kind that does not make a distinction between the waters adjacent to Western Sahara and the waters adjacent to the territory of Morocco would violate international law.[1]

In addition to a legal obligation, we believe that the Government of the Russian Federation also has the moral imperative to contribute towards a durable and just solution for this lingering injustice, rather than complicating the matter by itself profiting from the illegal and illegitimate Moroccan presence in Western Sahara.

From the homepages of Murmansk Trawl Fleet, we read with interest the protocol from the 3rd meeting of the Russian-Moroccan Joint Fisheries Commission in 2008, stating that a new agreement is about to be renegotiated and signed later this year.

On this basis, Western Sahara Resource Watch calls upon the Government of Russia to:

1) immediately halt fisheries offshore Western Sahara under the current Russian-Moroccan Fisheries Partnership Agreement; and
2) clearly specify in the forthcoming agreement that the southern limit for fishing activities in Moroccan waters is the internationally recognized border between Morocco and Western Sahara, 27º 40’ north.

Yours sincerely,

Cate Lewis
International Coordinator
Western Sahara Resource Watch

[1] Ambassador Hans Corell, The legality of exploring and exploiting natural resources in Western
Sahara, address to the Conference on Multilateralism and International Law with Western Sahara as a
Case Study, hosted by the South African Department of Foreign Affairs and the University of Pretoria,
held in Pretoria, South Africa, 4 to 5 December 2008, available at:



24.03 - 2017 / 24.03 - 2017Morocco's P for Politics in Africa
23.03 - 2017 / 07.03 - 2017Kosmos with extensive seismic studies off occupied Western Sahara
23.03 - 2017 / 23.03 - 2017African Union asks Morocco not to sign Western Sahara deals
20.03 - 2017 / 20.03 - 2017French government dilutes Court of Justice conclusion
17.03 - 2017 / 17.03 - 2017Spain confirms: EU-Morocco trade deal not for Western Sahara goods
17.03 - 2017 / 02.03 - 2017New controversial energy infrastructure to be built in Western Sahara
16.03 - 2017 / 16.03 - 2017New publication on the EU and Western Sahara
10.03 - 2017 / 08.03 - 2017Morocco lobbies for toxic metals in EU agriculture
08.03 - 2017 / 05.03 - 2017Basque parliament asks companies to stay clear from Western Sahara
03.03 - 2017 / 02.03 - 2017The Vigeo Eiris shock: from ethics to occupation
15.02 - 2017 / 15.02 - 2017Glencore steps up oil search offshore occupied Western Sahara
13.02 - 2017 / 12.02 - 2017Siemens dodges questions on Saharawi consent
10.02 - 2017 / 09.02 - 2017This cargo from occupied Western Sahara is now to arrive France
09.02 - 2017 / 09.02 - 2017Danish company stops salt imports from Western Sahara
02.02 - 2017 / 02.02 - 2017EU looks to avoid energy imports from Western Sahara
25.01 - 2017 / 25.01 - 2017Key Bay unloaded all cargo in Fécamp, France
24.01 - 2017 / 24.01 - 2017Here is the Key Bay inside the port of Fécamp
23.01 - 2017 / 23.01 - 2017Why the Key Bay imports are not in accordance with EU law
22.01 - 2017 / 22.01 - 2017Key Bay just outside of port of Fécamp
18.01 - 2017 / 18.01 - 2017Key Bay to arrive in France while complaints to be filed


Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
Report: COP22 controversy - Moroccan green energy used for plunder


At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents.
Support Western Sahara Resource Watch


Help us to protect the natural resources of Western Sahara for the Saharawi people. Support our work by making a donation.
The Western Sahara oil curse


Big oil’s interest in occupied Western Sahara has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Some companies are now drilling, in complete disregard of international law and the Saharawi people’s rights. Here’s what you need to know.
Stand up for the Gdeim Izik 25!


On 17 February 2013, in a mockery of justice, a Moroccan military court condemned 25 Saharawi citizens to shockingly tough prison sentences. Help us to release the Gdeim Izik 25. News Archive 2016 News Archive 2015 News Archive 2014 News Archive 2013 News Archive 2012 News Archive 2011 News Archive 2010 News Archive 2009 News Archive 2008 News Archive 2007 News Archive 2004-2006

Register for our English newsletter:

These web pages have been built with the financial support of the trade union Industry Energy