Frontpage          About the group          Support us          Contact us     

News Archive 2009
News Archive 2008

The Solidarity Group is member of:

European Parliament's lawyers declare EU fishing illegal

Brussels, 23 February 2010 - In a previously confidential legal opinion, the European Parliament’s Legal Service has declared fishing by European vessels in Western Sahara’s waters to be in violation of international law.
Printer version    
Press release:

Brussels, 23 February 2010 - In a previously confidential legal opinion, the European Parliament’s Legal Service has declared fishing by European vessels in Western Sahara’s waters to be in violation of international law.

The new opinion confirms that European vessels are fishing Western Sahara’s rich waters under a fisheries partnership agreement between the EU and Morocco, and that the Saharawi population of Western Sahara has never been consulted nor received any benefits from the exploitation of their own rich fisheries resources.  The new opinion calls on the European Commission to suspend or amend the EU-Morocco agreement to ensure that “EU-flagged vessels are excluded from the exploitation of the waters of Western Sahara.”

The new opinion was forwarded to the Parliament in July 2009, but finally made public today when tabled for debate in the Parliament’s Fisheries Committee.  

The Parliamentary Legal Service also “recommend[ed] strongly” that the wishes and interests of the Western Sahara’s native Saharawi population should be discussed at the next annual meeting of the EU-Morocco Joint Fisheries Committee, but this recommendation was completely ignored by the European Commission, which failed to even place the issue on the agenda at the most recent meeting in early February 2010.

“The EU places respect for international law at the heart of its foreign policy, but has turned a blind eye in the case of Western Sahara”, said Portuguese MEP Miguel Portas.  “The illegal and unethical EU fishing activities in Western Sahara’s waters are nothing short of theft, and constitute implicit support for what most countries worldwide regard as an illegal occupation by Morocco in Western Sahara", he said.

“The European Parliament cannot ignore the clear advice of its own Legal Service”, said Sara Eyckmans, International Coordinator of Western Sahara Resource Watch.”  “The Parliament must require the European Commission to ensure that European vessels immediately cease fishing in Western Saharan waters, and to seek to amend the fisheries partnership agreement to comply with international law.”, she stated.

The illegality of the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement was recently confirmed by former UN Legal Adviser Hans Corell, whose 2002 legal opinion for the UN Security Council on Western Sahara’s natural resources has been purposefully misquoted by European Commission officials, including outgoing EU Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg, in an effort to defend its illegal fishing.  

Corell himself made clear in late 2008 that he found it “incomprehensible” and felt “embarrassed as a European” that the Commission would use his 2002 opinion to defend the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement, unless the Saharawi people had been consulted directly and had agreed to its terms.

529 civil society organisations and more than 11,000 people worldwide have so far called on the EU to stop its fisheries in Western Sahara by signing up on WSRW’s campaign homepage The European Parliamentary Legal Service’s new opinion can be accessed via the same website.

Sara Eyckmans, WSRW international coordinator



News archive:
14.04 - 2010RFK and HRW call for human rights monitoring in Western Sahara
10.04 - 2010Morocco to appoint a Polisario deserter Ambassador to Spain
09.04 - 2010Morocco must end harassment of Sahrawi activists
05.04 - 2010Worldwide appeal for human rights monitoring in Western Sahara
06.04 - 2010Moroccan crack-down against group of Saharawi activists
04.04 - 2010Appeal by political prisoner's mother
02.04 - 2010Health Sahrawi political prisoners on hunger strike deteriorating
16.03 - 2010Emprisoned Saharawi activist wins human rights award
05.03 - 2010First EU-Morocco summit: Don’t forget human rights in Western Sahara
05.03 - 2010Take action for human rights monitoring in Western Sahara
24.02 - 2010European Parliament's lawyers declare EU fishing illegal
12.02 - 2010Parties to Western Sahara dispute commit to further UN-backed talks
09.02 - 2010Parties in Western Sahara dispute to hold new round of talks tomorrow
28.01 - 2010Morocco slammed for Sahara travel ban
23.01 - 2010Peak phosphorous: mankind's latest threat
18.12 - 2009Activist's "victory" over Morocco puts Sahara back on world agenda
18.12 - 2009Activist heads home after ending hunger strike
17.12 - 2009As UN Council meets on Western Sahara, ill Haidar is freed
17.12 - 2009Western Sahara hunger striker taken to hospital
05.12 - 2009AU calls on Moroccan authorities to allow return of rights activist

Africa's last colony Since 1975, three quarters of the Western Sahara territory has been illegally occupied by Morocco. The original population lives divided between those suffering human rights abuses under the Moroccan occupation and those living in exile in Algerian refugee camps. For more than 40 years, the Saharawi await the fulfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.
Trailer: Western Sahara, Africa's last colony


Have a look at this teaser for the upcoming documentary "Western Sahara, Africa's last colony". Coming soon.
Book: International Law and the Question of Western Sahara


To our knowledge the first collective book on the legal aspects of the Western Sahara conflict. Available in English and French.