Scoop: Sealord, not Law’ed

How ironic that Sealord – half owned by Maori business interests - was being denounced on RNZ this morning by foreign human rights agencies for co-exploiting the fisheries resources of the indigenous people of Western Sahara.
Published: 12.05 - 2008 11:19Printer version    
Scoop: Election 2008
8th May 2008
By Gordon Campbell

This isn’t the first time Sealord’s business links have triggered accusations of dodgy dealings – remember the charges of their indirect links to whaling earlier this decade, subsequently terminated after a blaze of publicity ?

They might try to ride this one out. After all, this fisheries case isn’t the first time that Phil Goff and the Government have been called on to deter our firms from breaking international law over the exploitation of Western Saharan resources. In mid 2006, Ravensdown availed itself of a phosphate shipment from Western Sahara. In 2006, Goff’s feeble rejoinder of that deal in Parliament ran like this :“I do not think anybody can say with any certainty what the local people in Western Sahara feel about the mining of phosphate resources. I certainly have no evidence about that. I am aware that the independence movement is opposed to that, but I am not aware of what the views of the ordinary people in Western Sahara may be, and how could I be? “

That’s right, Phil. With that attitude, it would have been almost as hard to oppose apartheid wouldn’t it, because – while we knew the views of the ANC movement - who among us REALLY KNEW what the views of the average black person on the streets of South Africa were? Maybe they LIKED apartheid, and maybe Saharawis like being colonised by a country with whom they have almost no shared cultural legacy, and that is ripping off their natural resources ? Who’s to know – right, Phil ?

For the record, New Zealand officially regards Western Sahara as a colonized territory, opposes the Moroccan invasion and occupation, and supports the right of the Saharawi people to have a choice between total independence and limited autonomy under Moroccan rule, in a referendum that was first promised to them 30 years ago, and several times since.

Disclosure : lawyer Moana Jackson and I will be speaking on Monday and Wednesday next week in Wellington at the Human Rights Film Festival screenings of the film “ Western Sahara : Africa’s Last Colony.”




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.
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