Thursday, July 03, 2008
I know there's fish out there: EU fishing in Western Sahara
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