Ireland: "Unclear whether Western Sahara benefits from EU fisheries"

There is no unequivocal proof that Western Sahara, let alone its people, has benefitted from the EU-Morocco fisheries partnership agreement (FPA), according to the Irish government.
Published: 02.06 - 2011 17:00Printer version    
The Irish government has stated that there is no adequate evidence that the EU-Morocco FPA has benefitted Western Sahara. This was noted by Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, on 25 May 2011.  The Irish position thus reflects the concern from other EU states - as well as of the Legal Opinion from the European Parliament in 2009.

“Ireland has been clear that our final decision would be influenced by whether it can be persuasively shown that there is appropriate benefit deriving to the Saharawi people through implementation of the FPA. Therefore, our position on the ratification of the one year protocol remains reserved, as the Commission’s analysis of the information provided by the Moroccan side on the regional benefits has not been unequivocal. While citing that positive benefits were in evidence in the regional distribution of funds including to the Western Sahara, the level of those benefits remain uncertain”, the Minister stated.

“Ireland is also of the view that the FPA with Morocco should be implemented if it can be shown to be to the benefit of all the people concerned (including the Saharawi, in relation to the waters off Western Sahara) and in full accordance with the principles of international law. I am not convinced that this is the case at present and will consider very carefully Ireland’s final position on ratification of the one year protocol when a formal proposal comes from the Commission.”

The Minister's statement came in reply to a question by parliamentarian Gerry Adams (Sinn Féin); “To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will vote against the protocol related to the controversial EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement that will be tabled for the considerations of the Council on 27 April 2011 in Brussels.”

Furthermore, Minister Coveney told the Parliament that “no Irish fishing vessels have operated in Morocco under this FPA since 2007”. This in reply to a question by parliamentarian Peadar Tóibín (Sinn Féin);  “To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason Ireland continues to support several Irish fishing vessels that are currently operating in the over-exploited and disputed waters off the coast of western Sahara; and if he will make a statement on the matter.”

In 2002, the UN legal counsel concluded that natural resource activity in Western Sahara is in violation of international law if the Saharawi’s wishes and benefits are not taken into account.  

The European Parliament's Legal Services, and the author of the UN Legal Opinion, have acknowledged EU fisheries is illegal, since the Saharawi have not been consulted on the FPA. The UK government also earlier in May stated that no documentation have been presented as to whether the Saharawi people have ever been consulted on the agreement.

More than 100 UN resolutions, and the International court of justice, have noted the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and, consequently, the right to sovereignty over their natural resources. In 2010, the Court reiterated the right of colonized (non-self-governing) peoples to self-determination, in its advisory opinion on Kosovo’s independence.




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.
EU Court cases on Western Sahara for dummies


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.
Stand up for the Gdeim Izik 25!


Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
Support Western Sahara Resource Watch


Help us to protect the natural resources of Western Sahara for the Saharawi people. Support our work by making a donation.
Report: Moroccan green energy used for plunder


At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents. News Archive 2018 News Archive 2017 News Archive 2016 News Archive 2015 News Archive 2014 News Archive 2013 News Archive 2012 News Archive 2011 News Archive 2010 News Archive 2009 News Archive 2008 News Archive 2007 News Archive 2004-2006

Register for our English newsletter:

These web pages have been built with the financial support of the trade union Industry Energy