Greenpeace: EU parliament must vote no to Western Sahara fisheries
Greenpeace International today launched a report documenting the increasing private Moroccan fleet in Western Sahara. The combination of that fleet with a new European fisheries agreement with Morocco is not sustainable, according to Greenpeace, calling for the European Parliament to reject renewed EU fisheries in the occupied waters.
In November, Western Sahara Resource Watch revealed shocking images of the vessel Adrar, in the process of discarding 60 tonnes of sardines. The reason: They were too small for the canning factory. This only vessel is said to have dumped 1000 tonnes of fish into the waters off Western Sahara only this year.
But Adrar is only one of many of an increasingly large Moroccan private fleet offshore Western Sahara. In 2010, the European Commission received a slamming evaluation report stating its previous fisheries agreement in Western Sahara was unsustainable, as all the stocks were overfished. Since then, by Christmas 2012, Morocco entered into a massive 200.000 tonnes/year fisheries agreement with Russia. But furthermore, and not much covered internationally: the private Moroccan fleet has exploded.
Greenpeace International today launched the report "Exporting Exploitation - How retired EU fishing vessels are devastating West African fish stocks and undermining the rights of local people". The publication documents 21 vessels taken into use by Morocco in Western Sahara over the last years only. Of those, 12 have been exported from EU states.
Greenpeace “demands that the EU stop exploiting the fishing grounds off the coast of Western Sahara and Morocco, unless and until it can ensure that fish stocks are managed in a sustainable manner and that the fishery takes into account the wishes and benefits of the people of the territory”.
Greenpeace furthermore demands that EU Member States: • remove excess fishing capacity by scrapping or converting to non-fishing purposes those vessels that have the biggest impact in terms of overfishing and the destruction of marine habitats; • allocate access to fishing opportunities in a way that rewards fishermen who minimise the environmental impacts of fishing and that maximises the socio-economic benefits for local communities; and • prevent the transfer of excess fishing capacity to other regions.
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.
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.
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