Saharawi fishermen continue to protest exclusion from Boujdour harbour
For the third consecutive day, Saharawi fishermen have been protesting in the harbour of Boujdour, demanding the right to fish in their own waters. Since Monday, Moroccan police officers have been preventing the Saharawi from accessing their boats.
In protest of their exclusion from Boujdour’s harbour, more than 70 Saharawi fishermen gathered at the harbour’s entry point at 16h this afternoon, 12 January. This immediately triggered a fierce response from Moroccan police, reportedly once again backed by Moroccan settlers. The protesters claim they were immediately dispersed by force, and some, like Elkharrachi Ebbaha, were threatened they’d be arrested.
Western Sahara Resource Watch has received photos of the events. Click on photos for high resolution.
The Moroccan police claim that the Saharawi fishermen lack the necessary licenses to fish. But the Saharawi fishermen riposte that only Moroccan settlers receive these licenses granted by the Moroccan authorities.
“We have to pay 1.500 Dirham (150€) in order to obtain such a license”, a Saharawi fisherman stated, “we simply cannot afford that”.
Saharawi fishermen estimate the number of Moroccan settlers that have received fishing licenses for Boujdour harbour to be around 1.000 individuals, while no more than 10 Saharawi would enjoy the same privilege.
The fishermen complain that the Moroccan authorities have been preventing them quite frequently from fishing, especially in this period when it is officially allowed to fish for shellfish, octopus and squid. Morocco declared the fishing period for these species opened on 5 January.
“Shellfish are immediately transported to Moroccan cities such as Agadir and Casablanca. We don’t gain anything from it, we don’t even get to eat shellfish”, adds another fisherman. “But the Moroccan authorities have no right to stop us from going into our waters and fish to make a living”.
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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