Western Sahara Resource Watch has over the last months been in contact with the Russian firm Murmansk Trawl Fleet, regarding their operations in Western Sahara. Today, WSRW demanded that MTF halts its operations in the territory. WSRW currently awaits answers from MTF regarding the scope and nature of their operations offshore the territory. Below is the correspondence.
Murmansk Trawl Fleet Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Nikolay Karlin
Melbourne, 31 May 2009
Regarding MTF fisheries in occupied Western Sahara
Western Sahara Resource Watch was very glad to receive an e-mail from Murmansk Trawl Fleet in March, indicating that your company periodically visits our homepages, that you find them useful for you, that you respect our work and that you wish us successes in the future.
But seen in the light that your company is fishing in Western Sahara in disregard of the wishes and interests of the Sahrawi people, and considering that we do not get answers about MTF’s operations in the territory, we believe that your company is really not contributing to the cause of our work.
As you probably know, WSRW works in solidarity with the people of Western Sahara. The Sahrawi people, who are living under Moroccan occupation, have the right to self-determination over their land and its resources. This right has been affirmed by over 100 UN resolutions. But unfortunately, these rights are not respected by Morocco.
No state in the world, including the Russian Federation, recognises Morocco’s claim over the territory of Western Sahara, which it illegally occupied in 1975. Morocco is thus not in the position to negotiate over the resources of that territory. This is even clearer for the fisheries resources, considering that Morocco has never even presented a claim to the waters offshore the territory.
Still, some companies choose to carry out businesses with Morocco in the occupied area. On the English section of your homepages, under section “Fishing areas”, MTF claims to do pelagic fisheries in Morocco. However, as WSRW keeps documenting, a large part of MTF’s fisheries under your Moroccan agreement, if not all of it, actually takes place in Western Sahara waters. Western Sahara is not part of Morocco.
Supporting the Moroccan exploitation of natural resources in Western Sahara, as MTF appears to be doing, is not only contributing to violating international law. It furthermore constitutes a political and clearly immoral support to the illegal and brutal Moroccan occupation.
On this basis, Western Sahara Resource Watch strongly urge you to immediately halt those operations, until a peaceful solution to the Western Sahara conflict has been found.
In a long email correspondence with your colleagues over the last months, we have asked your company a number of questions regarding MTF’s operations in Western Sahara.
Your colleague Mr. Shkatov claimed that the answers to our questions are to be found on your homepages. As far as we see, that is incorrect. We would still like an answer to our questions as to the scope and nature of your fishing in occupied Western Sahara. Please find our questions here, including a copy of this letter: https://wsrw.org/index.php?parse_news=single&cat=105&art=1159.
Cate Lewis International Coordinator Western Sahara Resource Watch firstname.lastname@example.org +61 407 288 358 www.wsrw.org/
From: Catherine Lewis Date: Thu, 14 May 2009 21:49:53 +1000 To: Igor Shkatov Conversation: MTF Subject: Re: MTF
Dear Mr. Shkatov We have now gone thoroughly through both the English and Russian versions of your homepages. To the contrary of what you tell us, we find answers to none of our nine questions on your site. As far as we see, your pages only partially answers question number 1 and 3, but nothing more. We would appreciate it a lot if you can answer our questions regarding your company and its operations in occupied Western Sahara, as mentioned in our mail on 8th of April 2009 (copied below). Yours sincerely, Cate Lewis
13/4/09 6:42 PM, Igor Shkatov wrote:
Dear Cate Lewis,
We treat with respect to Lloyd's Register but we want to concentrate your attention that all definite and full information you can get on MTF's website ONLY. This website is indicated in your information bulletin in english as well for sure. You just need to go there and learn it attentively.
Hope for your understanding.
Best regards, Igor Shkatov JSC"Murmansk Trawl Fleet"
Dear Mr. Shkatov Thank you for your mails. Sorry it has taken us some time to get back to you. The source of Mr. Tugushev being the vice-president of your MTF was Lloyd’s Register, a source we find very credible on ownership information. Please find the information from Lloyd’s below. If the information of Tugushev’s affiliation to MTF is incorrect, it might be a good idea for you to update Lloyd’s. We will correct the information that you requested. While doing these corrections, we want to introduce a clarification as to why the pages were changed. We therefore hope you will be able to reply to the following questions:
1) Do we understand you correctly that Mr. Tugushev and Mr. Prutkov today are NOT the vice-president and president of MTF?
2) Is it correct that Mr. Tugushev and Mr. Prutkov had such roles in your company in the past? If yes, in which period did they have such roles? Is this Mr. A. Tugushev the same person as the Alexandr Tugushev, former deputy head of the State Committee for Fisheries?
3) Does Mr. Tugushev and Mr. Prutkov today have any formal affiliation to your company? If yes, what kind?
4) How many licences does MTF have with Morocco at the moment?
5) What was the annual volume of the MTF catches in Morocco/Western Sahara for 2007 and 2008?
6) How much of this fishing took place in waters offshore Western Sahara? (Please specify in volume).
7) Which species are caught in Western Sahara?
8) Is it correct that the fishing is taking place under the Russian-Moroccan fisheries agreement signed in September 2007?
9) Which vessels have MTF used in Western Sahara waters during 2007, 2008 and 2009? (please specify by name and IMO number).
Thank you for you patience and your understanding. Looking forward to your reply.
Cate Lewis -- Cate Lewis International Coordinator Western Sahara Resource Watch email@example.com +61 407 288 358 https://www.wsrw.org/
On 31/3/09 10:23 PM, Igor Shkatov wrote:
Dear Cate Lewis
I contact you for and behalf of JSC “Murmansk Trawl Fleet”. We periodically visit your Web site and find the information contained in this site as very attractive and useful for us. We are very grateful for this and desire you further creative successes. On 21.01.2008 “Western Sahara Resource Watch” published an article” Murmansk Trawl Fleet is behind the 2 recent vessels ", concerning our fishing trawlers, namely “Alexander Mironenko” and “Kapitan Bogomolov”. Please note that to our deepest regret you incorrectly indicated the names of our management and also contact telephones and address of JSC “Murmansk Trawl Fleet”. Full information about the activity of our enterprise you can obtain on our website www.mtf.ru We ask you to make amendments in abovementioned article and to use data then as follows:
Chief executive of JSC”MTF” is Mr. Nikolay Karlin
Address : 43 Shmidt str. , Murmansk 183 038, Russia Tel : +7 8152 288 111 Fax : +7 8152 288 070 E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org Web : www.mtf.ru
We respect your activity and hope that it wouldn't so difficult for you to make present amendments.
Best regards, Igor Shkatov JSC "MURMANSK TRAWLK FLEET"
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.