Saturday, August 12, 2006

How a fishing agreement matters in the Sahara

The more I learn about the Western Sahara conflict, the clearer it becomes that it's going to be won in little issues--trade pacts, diplomatic recognition of Polisario, drilling agreements and the like are easier to affect than the ultimate goals of a pro-independence organization: sanctions against Morocco and an aggressive return to the referendum process.

Economic agreements with Morocco are especially important because they can reinforce the Moroccan occupation. If a country or company makes a deal with Morocco that includes Saharawi territory, they're recognizing Morocco's right to administer the land and its resources. Plus, the signatories to these agreements become allies against the Saharawi struggle for independence, as they'd have to renegotiate their deals with Western Sahara became independent.

That's why it's sad to see that in mid-May of this year, the European Union made a deal with Morocco that allows European ships to fish off the coast of the Western Sahara. The EU paid 114 million euros for fishing access, and it's hard to imagine much of that will get to the Saharawis. Just another example of Moroccan plunder of Western Sahara's natural resources.

Fish Elsewhere! was an anti-fishing campaign put on by War on Want, a British anti-poverty organization. While the campaign failed, it's got more information about the treaty and is considering legal action to stop it.

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