European vessels fishing in Western Sahara’s rich waters are in violation of international law, according to the European Parliament’s own legal service. The people of Western Sahara have never been consulted about, or benefited from, the exploitation of their fisheries resources, reveals Western Sahara Resource Watch.
The fisheries partnership agreement between the EU and Morocco was condemned last year by the Legal Service, which recommended that the wishes and interests of the Saharawi population be discussed at the next EU-Morocco Joint Fisheries Committee meeting in February 2010. The European Commission ignored the request and the issue was not even put on the agenda.
Portuguese MEP Miguel Portas was just one of those incensed by the EU’s behaviour:
‘The EU places respect for international law at the heart of its foreign policy, but has turned a blind eye in the case of Western Sahara fisheries. The illegal and unethical EU fishing activities in Western Sahara’s waters are nothing short of theft, and constitute implicit support for what most countries worldwide regard as an illegal occupation by Morocco in Western Sahara. Even worse, it entails that the EU’s policy works against the solving of the conflict. This cannot continue.’