Problems in renewing EU fisheries agreement with Morocco

Apparently, some of the pressure that has been put on the EU concerning the EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement by Western Sahara Solidarity groups and others has paid off. The Agreement, a violation of international law, is up for renewal in 2011. According to the Chairwoman of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee, however, the Agreement might not be renewed at all. In an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE the Chairwoman of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee, Carmen Fraga, stated that, “there will be problems” with renewing the Agreement as there are currently no negotiations underway, and that the “difficulties” are due to issues relating to Western Sahara. Fraga also stated that she believed that Western Sahara should be included in any future agreements.

There seems to be some disagreement concerning the fisheries Agreement within the European Union, however, as the European Commission had yesterday defended the Agreement as being legal despite protests from the European Commission. In a letter to the “Fish Elsewhere” campaign, The European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, insisted that a legal opinion about the resource exploitation in occupied territories made by UN specialist Hans Corell in 2002 concluded that the Agreement was legal. She further held that the fisheries Agreement “may have a positive effect on the Western Sahara economy, for example through landing of catches, embarkation of local seamen, and use of local ports”.

According to the conclusion of Hans Corell’s legal opinion, however, the population of Western Sahara has to agree to any exploitation of its resources, and the Sahrawi population of Western Sahara has certainly not agreed to the fisheries Agreement.  “The conclusion is, therefore, that …if further exploration and exploitation activities were to proceed in disregard of the interests and wishes of the people of Western Sahara, they would be in violation of the principles of international law applicable to… resource activities in Non-Self- Governing Territories”, concluded Corell.

Polisario’s representative in Denmark, Abba Malainin, also insisted that Western Sahara must be excluded from any renewed agreement, stating that “The EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement including the waters of Western Sahara is in violation of international law, and the waters of the last colony in Africa, Western Sahara, should be excluded in the renewal of the agreement.”


Commission still awaits data from Morocco for renewal fisheries pact, FishElsewhere, 8 September 2010

Problems renewing the fisheries agreement with Morocco, WSRW, 1 July 2010

Carmen Fraga afirma que habrá problemas para renovar el acuerdo con Marruecos,, 30 June 2010

EU considers Western Sahara fisheries legal, Afrol News, 1 July 2010

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