The Norwegian firm Ewos, partially owned by the Norwegian government, last night announced they had stopped purchases of fish oil from Morocco and occupied Western Sahara.
The firm has for a number of years purchased between 12.000 and 20.000 tonnes of fish oil from the region via the Norwegian fish oil importer GC Rieber.
If one estimates the fish oil at approx 60 Eurocent/kg, the Ewos purchases from the region have had an annual value between 7,2 million and 12 million euros annually – equivalent to one eight of the annual Norwegian humanitarian aid to the Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria.
Ewos claimed on its homepages last night to never have received requests from anyone to stop the purchase. That is incorrect. Both the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Finances, as well as the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara have protested the trade.
“We have been crystal clear from day one. We are glad that they take this into account and it is now in accordance with our recommendation”, stated deputy trade minister Rikke Lind today in one of the biggest newspapers in Norway, Dagbladet.
The Norwegian government urges Norwegian firm to not invest in Western Sahara or trade with products from the territory.
The Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara is very content of the Norwegian government’s handling of the issue.
“We are very glad that the Norwegian government has approached this affair this seriously. It is evident that their clear message has gone though in the Ewos’ boardroom”, said Sigrun Espe at Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara.
Ewos is a main provider of aquaculture feed in Norway and internationally, used among other things the big Norwegian salmon farming industry.
The fish oil importer, GC Rieber, has received fish oil from the occupied territories for several years. The affair got new attention as details around the trade were exposed at a investigative documentary on Swedish national TV in March. The issue has created particular attention since the president of GC Rieber is the head of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise, thus working against the advice of his own confederation and the Norwegian government.
Ewos has announced that the purchases finally end as the current contract expires before end of June.
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.
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