The EU fisheries in Western Sahara have today been voted down in the European Parliament. Reports made for the European Commission have shown that the EU fisheries in Western Sahara are a complete waste of EU taxpayers’ money, and contribute to destruction of marine life offshore Western Sahara. EU fleet must now return from Western Sahara.
Today’s plenary vote in the European Parliament, over European Union fisheries in Western Sahara, took place around 11:30 today.
The parliament voted over whether to accept the 1 year extension of the EU fisheries in Western Sahara. The agreement is entered into between the EU and Western Sahara's occupying power Morocco. The extension was approved by a tiny minority in the Council of Ministers in June, as the former 2007-2011 agreement expired in March.
Reports done for the European Commission have showed that the EU fisheries in Western Sahara are a complete waste of EU’s taxpayers money, and contribute to destruction of marine life offshore Western Sahara. In addition, the Parliament’s own legal service had already concluded that the agreement is in violation of international law, since Western Sahara is not part of Morocco, and the people of the territory have never approved the fisheries.
In November, both the parliament’s Budget Committee and the Development Committee recommended that the fisheries be stopped. In the Fisheries Committee, the rapporteur Carl Haglund from Finland also recommended a rejection. However, a small minority of the fisheries committee managed to change the conclusion of the Haglund report so it appeared in favour instead of rejecting the agreement.
The vote today, was over whether to approve or reject the changed and nonsensical Haglund report which had been amended to accept the controversial fisheries.
The result was that 326 voted against the report, thus demanding the fisheries to stop.
296 parliamentarians, mostly following the Spanish fishing interests, voted in favour of the Haglund report. 58 abstained.
The consequence is that the EU fleet has to immediately stop fisheries in Western Sahara and return home from the occupied territories of Western Sahara.
"This is a complete victory for the Saharawi people. The parliament has refused to blindly follow the interests of the Spanish fisheries industry. We expect this to have consequences for the Parliament's handling of future agreements with Morocco that involve the territory of Western Sahara. The UN has clearly stated that the Saharawi people has a right to be consulted on such issues", stated Sara Eyckmans of Western Sahara Resource Watch.
Spanish fisheries interests are already pushing for a new and illegal 4 year fisheries agreement in the occupied waters from beginning of 2012. Morocco has lobbied hard for the continuation of the fisheries offshore the territory it illegally occupied in 1975.
Western Sahara Resource Watch has since 2006 been working to stop the EU fisheries in the occupied Western Sahara. Help us to protect the rights of the Saharawis by making a donation.
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.