EU vessels return home in absense of new EU-Morocco fish deal
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The four-year Fisheries Protocol between Morocco and the EU expired last Saturday. Over 90% of the European catches under the deal were made in the waters of Western Sahara - illegally occupied by Morocco.
Published: 16.07 - 2018 11:03Printer version    
At midnight, Saturday 14 July 2018, the EU-Morocco Fisheries Protocol expired, forcing the EU-flagged fishing boats to return home.

In spite of four rounds of negotiations - the latest round held in Rabat on the eve of expiration - the parties could not agree on a follow-up Protocol.

Remarkably, the EU and Morocco had fairly rapidly settled the expected point of contention: how to relate to Western Sahara - a Non-Self-Governing Territory the size of the UK that is largely occupied by Morocco and subject to a UN peace process, and also the scene for the lion's share of EU fishing through the deal with Morocco. Earlier this year, in February, the Court of Justice of the European Union had invalidated the current EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement insofar as it was applied to Western Sahara. Western Sahara, the Court stated, does not fall under Moroccan “sovereignty or “jurisdiction”, and is not part of “Moroccan fishing zones” – a notion used throughout the Agreement and its implementing Protocols. The EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement has been in place since 2006, but is implemented through Protocols which are up for renegotiation every four years.

Morocco and the EU had agreed early on in the negotiation process, which kicked of in April this year, to have "Western Sahara" explicitely referred to in the geographical scope of both the Agreement and the new implementing Protocol.

This prompted the Western Sahara liberation movement Polisario to initiate new legal proceedings against the EU-Morocco plans to cooperate on fisheries in the waters of occupied Western Sahara, which they consider a violation of their right to self-determination.

For the EU, the main pebble in the shoe is the monetary aspect: Morocco wants to receive a financial contribution that is twice the amount of what it received under the just-now expired Protocol: an annual €80 million instead of €40 million. In return, Morocco is willing to offer larger fishing quota - something the EU, given its tough regulations to prevent overfishing, cannot accept blindly without more info on the quantities caught by other actors (Russia, etc).

The overwhelming majority of the affected vessels - 90 out of 126 - are Spanish. The Spanish Fisheries Confederation CEPESCA has already appealed to the Spanish Government for compensation to the affected fishermen.

Most catches in Western Sahara are pelagic species, and thus also of interest to fleets from other EU countries, such as Lithuania, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland and Germany.

The EU and Morocco are expected to continue talks to renew their fisheries partnership.



    

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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.
EU Court cases on Western Sahara for dummies

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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.
Stand up for the Gdeim Izik 25!

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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.
Support Western Sahara Resource Watch

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Help us to protect the natural resources of Western Sahara for the Saharawi people. Support our work by making a donation.
Report: Moroccan green energy used for plunder

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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.

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