The reefer vessel 'Nova Florida' today entered the harbour of Dakhla to ship frozen fish from occupied Western Sahara. The vessel has a carry capacity of over 6000 tonnes.
The vessel is in the fleet lists of the Dutch-Belgian company Seatrade. The vessel is owned and managed by Seatrade Groningen BV and operated by Seatrade Reefer Chartering NV, located in Antwerp, Belgium.
'Nova Florida' appears both on the fleet lists of the Dutch and the Belgian divisions.
The photo above and below, taken in the waters offshore Dakhla last year, shows another Seatrade vessel, the Seatrade Asiatic, loading cargo from a fishing vessel.
"It is sad that Belgian companies take part in the unethical plunder of the Western Sahara fish stocks. The fish of Western Sahara belongs to the Saharawi people, not the Moroccan companies or Moroccan government", stated Sara Eyckmans, the Belgium based coordinator of Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW).
The refugees from Western Sahara, that fled the country as Morocco invaded, receive canned fish from China as humanitarian aid from Sweden - once every two months. These refugees are the owners of the fish that Seatrade is shipping from Western Sahara. It is not yet known to which port internationally that Seatrade will transport the unethical goods.
The part of Western Sahara where the Seatrade called in today, was illegally and brutally annexed by Morocco in 1979. “The General Assembly deplores greatly the deterioration of the situation after Western Sahara continues to be occupied by Morocco and that the occupation has been expanded", the UN General Assembly stated regarding that part of Western Sahara.
A number of shipping companies that made fish transports from occupied Western Sahara stopped carrying out such activity after they were made aware of it. See for instance Norwegian shipping companies here and here.
'Nova Florida' seems now to be lying right next to the Russian vessel 'Admiral Starikov', loading fish. In 2008, WSRW took photos of 'Admiral Starikov' bunkering at Las Palmas in between fishing in Western Sahara. After a several months long break, 'Admiral Starikov' returned to Western Sahara waters this Christmas week, following a new fisheries agreement signed between Russia and Morocco.
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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.