The Norwegian Council for Africa wrote in February about the shipping company Atlantic RTI which transported fish from occupied Western Sahara. The company now says they will prevent their vessels from being used for such purposes in the future.
Last Christmas, the Norwegian Council for Africa photographed Atlantic’s vessel ‘Remora 1’. The ship was docked in the harbour of Dakhla in occupied Western Sahara, on its way to transport fish in violation of the recommendations of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Trade in fish from Western Sahara supports the Moroccan occupation and settlement policy in Western Sahara. The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs asks Norwegian companies to stay out of the territory.
The chairman of Atlantic RTI, Mr. Johan Lønnmark Werner, told the Norwegian Council for Africa that they disliked that the vessel had been used for such purposes, and that they had not accepted it had they had been in control over the vessel when the transport took place.
Now, Atlantic RTI is going even a step further in order to prevent such episodes in the future.
Mr. Edvard B. Aaby in Atlantic’s partner Fearnley Finans Shipping, in correspondence with the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara, confirms that the shipping company in future contracts will specify that their vessels are not going to carry out such shipments from Western Sahara.
This precision will be made in the contracts next time Atlantic RTI enters a charterparty, according to the company. Over the last years, several Norwegian shipping companies have stated that they do not want their vessels to visit ports in occupied Western Sahara, but none of the companies have taken such specific measures.
”Atlantic deserves to be praised for this”, said Ronny Hansen, chairman of the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara.
Hansen said that the Support Committee has been in contact with several shipping companies that dislike that their vessels have been used in Western Sahara.
”The challenge has always been that the companies claim that they have limited possibilities to stop such transports, since the vessels are being chartered out. Atlantic now shows that it is fully possible for a shipping company to stop such involvement, even when their vessels are under charter. They really show that they are a responsible company standing on solid ethical grounds”, said Hansen.
When Remora 1 carried out the transport, she was mortgageed by the Dutch bank HBU.
The Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara and their Dutch sister organisation have today made contact with the bank asking them to follow Atlantic’s example.
The Support Committee and Atlantic have been in continuous contact since the Norwegian Council for Africa wrote about the Atlantic transport in February.
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.