The images below were this week obtained by Western Sahara Resource Watch. They reveal the Belize flagged, Morocco owned, vessel Adrar, pumping sardina overboard. The operation shows supposedly 60 tonnes of sardines pumped overboard.
From what WSRW has been told, the owners were not happy with the size of the sardines – they did not fit with the canning factory in Agadir. At the time, the vessel was located at 24 degrees south, in the waters of Western Sahara.
More than 1000 tons have supposedly been discarded this year by this vessel alone. The order to discard the fish is said to have come from the owners of the vessel, Pelagic Armador, in Casablanca, Morocco.
Half the people of Western Sahara are living as refugees in Algeria, following the brutal Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara. They receive one tin of the same fish species, sardines, donated as humanitarian aid every month. Those sardines are from China.
"It is time that the Moroccan and international plunder of Western Sahara fisheries resources are dealt with in an international court. Morocco has no right to treat these resources as if they were their own", stated Sara Eyckmans, coordinator of Western Sahara Resource Watch.
The last 2-3 years, a large Moroccan fleet of vessels similar to the Adrar have been operating in Western Sahara, in parallel with the Russian fleet. Now, also the EU wants to dig into these fish stocks, by signing a fisheries agreement with Morocco.
According to this document from the investment company Mutandis in May this year, the Adrar/Pelagic Armador is 100% owned by LGMC, where the director general of Adrar is Omar Bennani.
It is not the first time that WSRW documents discards in Western Sahara. Video to the right is from the same area around Dakhla, 2012.
The vessel was doing a speed of 1,2 knots the day the image was taken, consistent with fishing activity. See map below the route the vessel took those days.
Click on images below for higher resolution. It will pop up in a window, and you can download the photos from your computer from there. Free use.
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.