Today, 15 October 2019, may very well be marked by the first import of fish oil from occupied Western Sahara into the European Union since January 2017.
The tanker Oramalia (flag: Gibraltar, IMO: 9392640) late afternoon of 15 October, discharged some of its cargo in Moerdijk, the Netherlands. Two weeks ago, on 2 October, the tanker had arrived at the port of El Aaiun – the capital city of occupied Western Sahara – with a draught of 5 meters. When she left on 6 October, the draught was 5,8 meters, indicating she had taken on a cargo. The vessel then made an 18 hours stop-over in Casablanca, taking in an additional, yet smaller cargo, on 8 October 2019. Oramalia then set sail for Rotterdam.
Today, the vessel has discharged part of its cargo in Moerdijk, just south of Rotterdam.
Western Sahara Resource Watch has reason to assume that the tanker is transporting a cargo of fish oil.
This Oramalia import therefore constitutes what is probably the first delivery of Western Sahara fish oil into the EU since January 2017, when the tanker Key Bay delivered a shipment to France. The probable importer of the Key Bay cargo, Olvea, has refused to answer any questions from media and civil society groups. It has not yet been established which European company has taken in today's Oramalia shipment.
Morocco has occupied the larger part of the territory of Western Sahara since 1975. Half the people of the territory has since fled their homeland, while Morocco profits from the exploitation of its resources. Morocco exports products from Western Sahara, but obfuscates their true origin: rather than Western Sahara, the products’ documentation will state Morocco as country of origin. The EU turns a blind eye to this practice for political reasons.
Accordingly, the import is most likely in violation with the “EU Hygiene Regulations on Fish Oil intended for Human Consumption and Third Country Establishments", which has a section on “Additional information regarding fish oil that is to be imported from third countries into the EU”. There, the Regulation specifies that "when importing fish oil for human consumption from a third country after 30 April 2009, the country must be listed in accordance with Article 11 of Regulation (EC) 854/2004 for import of fishery products."
"Furthermore, the third country establishment from which that product was dispatched, and in which it was obtained or prepared must appear on the lists of establishment from which import of specific products of animal origin are permitted", the Regulation reads.
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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.
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.