ECJ – EU / Morocco Fisheries Agreement does not cover the territory of Western Sahara and adjacent waters

In a statement issued today by the European Court of Justice on the Judgment in Case C-266/16, it is stated that the European Court of Justice reaffirms that Western Sahara and adjacent waters are not part of the Moroccan Territory meaning that the EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement is only applicable to the legitimate territory of Morocco and NOT THE TERRITORY OF WESTERN SAHARA AND ITS ADJACENT WATERS.

The EU / Morocco Fisheries Agreement is valid since it refers only to the Moroccan territory, any act of fishing that is outside this territory and is located in Western Sahara and its waters is therefore ILLEGAL.

In the statement can be read:

“In that regard, the Court notes, first of all, that the Fisheries Agreement is applicable to the “territory of Morocco”, an expression equivalent to the concept of “territory of the Kingdom of Morocco” in the Association Agreement. As the Court has previously held in its judgment of 21 December 2016, that concept itself refers to the geographical area over which the Kingdom of Morocco exercises its sovereign powers under international law, to the exclusion of any other territory, such as that of Western Sahara. In those circumstances, if the territory of Western Sahara were to be included within the scope of the Fisheries Agreement, that would be contrary to certain rules of general international law that are applicable in relations between the EU and Kingdom of Morocco, inter alia the principle of self-determination.”

“The Court notes, next, that the Fisheries Agreement is applicable to “waters falling within the sovereignty or jurisdiction” of the Kingdom of Morocco. In accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,6 the waters over which a coastal State is entitled to exercise sovereignty or jurisdiction are limited exclusively to the waters adjacent to its territory and forming part of its territorial sea or of its exclusive economic zone. The Court therefore holds that, taking account of the fact that the territory of Western Sahara does not form part of the territory of the Kingdom of Morocco, the waters adjacent to the territory of Western Sahara are not part of the Moroccan fishing zone referred to in the Fisheries Agreement.”

“The Court therefore holds that, since neither the Fisheries Agreement nor the Protocol thereto are applicable to the waters adjacent to the territory of Western Sahara, the EU acts relating to their conclusion and implementation are valid.”

Press release here: https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2018-02/cp180021en.pdf

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