Thursday, July 03, 2008

I know there's fish out there: EU fishing in Western Sahara

Tell my wife I am trolling Atlantis

In 2006, the European Union made a much-reviled deal with Morocco that allowed EU vessels to fish off Moroccan waters. The agreement didn't ban fishing off of Western Sahara's abundant fishery. It didn't specifically allow it, either, but now it turns out EU vessels went ahead and fished anyway.

It took several questions from EU parliament members to find out, but eventually the EU Commission admitted ships had fished in Western Sahara. At minimum, ships from Spain, Lithuania, and the United Kingdom have fished illegally.

The EU is supposed to be a triumph for international law, but it's a failure here. The countries in it don't recognize Morocco's occupation, so it's worse than a Moroccan fishing in Western Sahara who might believe it belongs to his country. Instead, European countries know it's wrong and are doing it anyway.

Stories like these make me wish Polisario still had access to the Atlantic Ocean. In Western Sahara: Roots of a Desert War, there's a story about Polisario soldiers kidnapping Moroccan fishermen in Western Saharan waters. They spirited them to Algeria and, as a diss to Morocco, handed them over to a Canary Islands delegation instead of to their home country's.

Props to the people at Western Sahara Resource Watch for following this so closely. Flickr photo used under a Creative Commons license


  1. Anonymous5:04 PM

    hey (will) last time you talked about tomatoes ,now you talking about fish hopefully next time you'll talk about lemon and that will lead you to a moroccan (tagra) it means moroccan fish tagine

  2. Anonymous5:08 PM

    lol what i this ridiculous blog, the western sahara fish is moroccan, and all the region, we are the owner of our sea and we let fish the ones we like, lol, another thing.why you put the french prisident pic? you know that france have his clear idea and support thatthe desert is 100% moroccan, keep dreaming; it's for free. the EU supot the legalty and the truth, the moroccan truth, historically, not the algerian truth... lol
    Will you are waisting your time, get married and get real life. hope you will have no complex to keep my comment not like the other ones.

  3. Thank goodness, I thought I had lost all my trolls! You're my favorite troll because you care about my personal life--making sure I settle down with a nice woman, find a job, etc.

    But seriously, no other country recognizes Morocco's occupation! Doesn't that make it pretty silly for them to profit from the occupation by taking fish?

  4. anonymous: I'm not sure that i agree with your morroccan truth, please read something else than morroccan history books...

    And Will, the EU is not just a failiure in this case, its basically a failiure all over the place.. It says one thing and does another, no surprise to me that they are fishing in Western Sahara waters, unfortunately.

  5. Anonymous7:13 PM

    so tell us (maren) which books of history did you read .
    * polisario history book.
    *norwegian support website.

  6. Saharawi student7:19 PM

    Hi Will, thanks once again for bringing us this awful news. Your blog stands out as not only creative, funny but very interesting.

    I like you thought that the Moroccans have abandoned the blog either because they have nothing to contribute due to lack of arguments or they don’t want to see a dialogue.

    Your Moroccan trolls would rather if you stopped covering Western Sahara. This is the Moroccan way and truth. They've tried all along to keep Western Sahara as a secret. For them no news is good news.

    They kept the territory sealed not only with the sand Wall (berm) but also with their police, secret agents and paramilitary who according to some estimates outnumber the Saharawis themselves in the occupied areas. These Moroccan forces monitor all visitors to the territory especially the media. Independent observers including NGOs and MPs are not welcome (remember Spanish groups that were turned back from the airport and the Scandinavians who were expelled).

    So basically the Moroccan trolls would like to shut you up.

    With regard to EU I agree that we’re really disappointed. But thank god for some decent voices there such as those of the Swedes and the Irish.

    We need to stress that what the EU is involved in is blood fish. The only missing thing is a film (Blood Diamond (film)).

  7. Not only does the EU illegal fishing agreement breaches the international law but it damages the marine ecology as well .Here is an interesting article which i came across on

    Thanks are due to Sweden and Irleland for their opposition of the EU fishing agreement also to some individuals and organisations too for their efforts.

  8. "so tell us (maren) which books of history did you read .
    * polisario history book.
    *norwegian support website."

    I suspect that Maren's reading list, like that of others interested in Western Sahara and Morocco's occupation of some (not all, let's remember kids) of the territory includes Toby Shelley's "Endgame in Western" Sahara, and Tony Hodges' "Roots of a Desert War" (and perhaps a few academic papers). As far as I'm aware neither Shelley nor Hodges is Norwegian nor a member of the Polisario.

    Now we also have "Saharan Conflict", a propaganda piece by a Moroccan professor that reflects the Moroccan government line. That's the only example of an entire book written to push one particular party line, at least in English.

    I like the distinction between "Moroccan truth" and other forms of truth. These pro-occupation types are such post-modernists....

  9. "Thank goodness, I thought I had lost all my trolls!"

    They still seem very reluctant to venture over to Sand and Dust. Perhaps they're scared of my billy goats.

  10. Anonymous5:55 PM

    same here professor , we thought we had lost all the Gadflies!.

    as for (toby shelley's and tony hodges) are the messiah for polisario and pro-polisario to us they're just people who wanna make a name for themselves or a 15 minute fame by writting useless books because they think they're the most expert about the north african region.

  11. Well, I'd take their analyses over those of the shifty propaganda peddlers pushing the autonomy plan any day. And Messiahs? That's probably giving them too much credit *lol*

    As for fame - anyone wanting that should choose a subject other than Western Sahara, which is hardly high profile.

    These anonymous trolls seem to have been taking lessons from the neocons who think that a falsehood can become the truth if you simply repeat it often enough. Ignoring reality in favour of the pursuit of the triumph of the will seems to be the order of the day, but it doesn't seem to have led to particularly brilliant results. That Nietzsche has a lot to answer for.

    The Morocco is Saharan!

  12. Maybe I've been too hard on the EU. It's bound to have problems like this with all the nations in it, and so many of them having fishermen who need new fisheries. I'm glad the Norwegians and others are trying to counterbalance those interests.

    Moroccan trolls inspired by neocons, Nick? Lord preserve us.

    The only book I need is Toby Shelley's.

  13. Anonymous2:18 AM

    We don't live in a world of reality,
    we live in a world of perceptions.
    moroccans are inspired by their history.

  14. Heyho moroccans are inspired by their history ??
    What history? The years of led? The colonial rule of France and Spain? The era of piracy and slavery?
    Or maybe there is confusion with the fairy tales about a great and gloryfull Islamic empire which stretched into Al Andalus and Al Garbe?
    That's not only history of Moroccans my dear, but also of Spanish and Portugese.

    Moroccan politicians who like to dream dreams of power about those days are similar to Mussolini who was inspired by the Roman empire and we all know this fascist perception did'nt work out very well.

  15. you can say it louder Van Kaas but you can't say it clearer!

    M6 dreams to rule the world (together with his slaves) to invade the whole western maghreb and to become a Member State of EU! (do not laugh at him, he thinks he's a fine Parisian!)


    AX 12:41h.

  16. "We don't live in a world of reality"

    Speak for yourself ;-)