Grievances over what they claim are discriminatory practices of a company responsible for assigning fishermen onto vessels brought them to protest in front of the Delegation of Fisheries, an institution of the Moroccan government that has occupied parts of Western Sahara since 1975. The fishermen blame the recruitment bureau for excluding the Saharawis, the native inhabitants of the area, while giving preferential treatment to fishermen from Morocco proper.
The Saharawi fishermen say that the Russians have little respect for the marine wildlife in the region. They contend that the Russian vessels still use internationally banned fishing methods such as driftnets. Endangered species and marine mammals, such as dolphins and whales, are frequently caught and die in these nets. According to the fishermen, the Russians get away with it as official observers who should be monitoring vessels’ compliance with rules and regulations set forth in the agreement, are largely absent.
Though the agreement grants 10 Russian trawlers access to the Moroccan waters, WSRW has thus far observed 8 of the vessels fishing in the waters of occupied Western Sahara. The previous agreement stipulated that the Russians had access to the Moroccan Exclusive Economic Zone, which does not include Western Saharan waters. Yet then, like now, the Russian fleet was predominantly active in occupied waters.
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.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the five different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
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.