N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
The EU is no longer allowed to fish the ocean off Western Sahara without the consent of the people of Western Sahara, according to the European (read: EU) Court of Justice. The EU has not secured the consent of the local population and thereby violated the Vienna Convention.
The EU concluded a fishing deal with Morocco in 2019 that also covered Western Sahara. Although Morocco itself considers Western Sahara to be Moroccan territory, this Moroccan annexation is controversial and the right of self-determination for the original Sahrawi population is recognised internationally, also by …. the EU!
Although 89 Sahrawi organisations wrote a letter of protest to the European Commission against the conclusion of fishing and trade agreements with Morocco over the area belonging to the Sahrawi people, the Commission continued the deals. The sacrifice of a recognised right to self-determination for commercial reasons (the EU fishermen catch about 100.000 ton of fish annually in the waters of Western Sahara) shows not only the arrogance of the Eurocrats but also how they think about the ‘EU values’ of democracy.
‘Contribute to sustainability, climate resilience, and peace’, reads one of the principles of the EU’s international ocean policy. In practice, this policy is anything but sustainable. The EU has spent decades building a fishing fleet of monstrous size. Millions in harmful fishing subsidies exacerbated the overfishing of seas and oceans. Even highly destructive fishing methods, such as trawl that destroy the seabed, are allowed to date.
And the fishing deal with Morocco is not an isolated one. Some recent examples. The EU was accused of neo-colonial looting of tuna in the Indian Ocean. Also, the EU argued for the weakest possible protection measures for yellowfin tuna during international consultations at the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission. At the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) measures were discussed to protect the shortfin mako shark, an endangered species on the IUCN Red List. The EU blocked it!
EU’s international actions in the field of ocean policy are in sharp contrast to the official objectives of it and to the Green Deal sustainability talks. It is clear, only EU’s industrial fishing activities count!