eldia.es Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 6 / Mar / 18
Mohamed Khadad, head of the Polisario Front’s external relations with MINURSO, warned today that if the decision of the European Court of Justice is not respected and a final agreement is reached, fishing vessels in the Canaries will be prohibited from exploiting fishing resources in the waters of Western Sahara.
“Fishing in the waters of Western Sahara is a tradition of the Canaries, we respect and want them to continue, but we can not accept that Morocco is negotiating and benefiting from the exploitation of resources,” Mohamed Khadad said in a press conference today.
Khadad also recalled that the Polisario Front will be open from today on to open negotiations and agreements within the legal framework defined by the Court of Justice of the European Union for the continuation of fishing in Saharawi waters.
For his part, Polisario Front lawyer Gilles Devers recalled that the aim of the movement is the liberation of the Saharawi territory, and stressed the need for governments not to turn this case into an economic issue of “simple” fishing rights. Read more
Source: Federation of Fishermen’s Guilds of the Canary Islands; Canary Islands, March 2018.
Canarian fishermen have a historical relationship with the Sahara fishing bank which was modified by the abandonment of Western Sahara in 1976 by the Spanish State, which failed to fulfil its obligations to the Saharawi people, not allowing them exercise its right to self-determination.
Since then, we have witnessed a succession of fisheries agreements, between Spain first and the European Union later, with Morocco which meant for the fishermen of the Canaries a progressive expulsion of the fishermen and for the Saharawi people to see how the riches of the their seas are plundered by predatory fishing practices developed by powerful foreign fleets, allowed and encouraged by the Moroccan occupation administration.
This situation was declared contrary to the law in the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 21 December 2016 – C-104/16 P-. This judicial decision recognized that Morocco and Western Sahara are distinct and separate territories, by virtue of the Charter of the United Nations and the principle of self-determination of peoples, considering that the agreements between the European Union and Morocco do not apply to the Territory of Western Sahara or their waters, so that European companies can not under any circumstances use Moroccan permits to operate in Western Sahara. This judicial body also affirms that the determining factor is not to evaluate whether a specific economic activity can be favourable or not to the Saharawi population, but to ensure that the representative of the Saharawi people, the Polisario Front, has given its consent for its development. Thus, European legislation makes clear that any economic activity on the territory of Western Sahara is subject to the express agreement of the Polisario Front, the only representative of the Saharawi people, in accordance with UN General Assembly resolution 34/37. Read more