Two months have passed since the start of the autumn fishing season offshore Western Sahara. Now, importing companies in the countries in the Gulf of Guinea have again started their problematic purchases. The trade directly contributes to prolonging Morocco’s illegal occupation of the last colony in Africa.
Yesterday, a so-called 'reefer' vessel transporting frozen fish arrived at Tema, Ghana, with a large cargo. Other shipments have the last few weeks been landed in ports of Abidjan, Monrovia, Lomé, Matadi and Pointe-Noire. The fifth vessel for the season departed the territory on 3 October.
In total, Westen Sahara Resource Watch estimates that around 28,000 tonnes of fish could have been exported out of Western Sahara on the five vessels since the start of the new fishing season at the end of July. To compare, the refugees from Western Sahara, who fled the territory following Morocco's invasion and illegal occupation of their land, receive less than 1,000 tonnes of canned fish in humanitarian assistance every year.
The main market for the frozen fish are the countries along the coast of West Africa, from Liberia in the north to Democratic Republic of Congo in the south. WSRW wrote about the 2019 statistics of that trade in March 2020.
The shipments so far this season are:
Novaya Zemlya (IMO 8514796, Dominica-flagged, 5 506 DWT), departed from Dakhla, Western Sahara on 3 October.
China Frost (IMO number 84109149, Cook Islands-flagged, 5409 DWT) arrived at the port of Tema, Ghana, on 6 October.
Frio Aegean (IMO number 9172703, Panama-flagged, 8040 DWT), arrived to Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, on 12 September, continuing with further cargo to Tema, Lomé, Matadi.
Frio Marathon (IMO number 8916229, Panama-flagged, 7242 DWT, operated by Baltmed Reefer Services Ltd, Greece) shipped to Monrovia on 8 September and Pointe-Noire, DRC, on 19 September.
Green Austevoll (IMO number 8819299, Bahamas-flagged, 6000 DWT) arrived in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, 22 August. Green Austevoll is a sister ship of the Green Glacier that fled from an arrest in South Africa for such trade. Green Austevoll was the first transhipment episode of the season, departing from Western Sahara waters on 15 August.
The frozen fish onboard the vessels originate from EU trawlers operating in Western Sahara in violation of a ruling of the Court of Justice of the EU which stated that the EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement cannot be applied to Western Sahara. The involved vessels are: Fishing Success (IMO number 9121091, Latvia-flagged), Kapitan Morgun (IMO number 9120308, Latvia-flagged) and Ieva Simonaityte (IMO number 8607218, Lithuania-flagged).
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.