EU vessels return home in absense of new EU-Morocco fish deal
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.