June 2017 / West Sahara Disputes

As a lot of you aware that the dispute about the Western Sahara became an important issue after Spain left the territory. Morocco and The Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic have a big conflict about the territory and the phosphate mines. Some parts of the ''Western Sahara'' is part of the Moroccan territory including two main ports which are Dakhal port and Layoune port. UN does not recognize The Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic and also Morocco's claim to sovereignty over Western Sahara is not recognized by any state, nor by the UN.  So that the main issue is who is the owner of the mines and the products being produced in those mines.

It has become a significant topic in shipping industry after the large motor vessel NM Cherry Blossom has been detained in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on 15 June 2017. The High Court stated that the ship, carrying conflict minerals from occupied Western Sahara, is to remain there until a trial concludes on the real ownership of the cargo. The most important thing about this detainment is that, the charterer of this transport named Furness Withy a London/Melbourne based dry cargo ship operating and brokering company which is part of German company Hamburg Süd. This entity is in turn wholly owned by the Oetker Group, particularly known internationally for its Dr.Oetker frozen pizzas.

Furthermore, On 14 March 2017, the Oetker Group announced an agreement to sell its subsidiary Hamburg Süd to Danish company Maersk. Moreover, recently another vessel owned by ULTRABULK (The Danish shipping company) and chartered by OCP (OCP SA is a Moroccan state-owned company, which since 1975 has been in operation of the mine in Western Sahara through its subsidiary Phosphates de Boucraa S.A.) was detained by Panama jurisdiction when crossing the Panama Canal but immediately released in line with the international law.


To sum up, WSRW (Western Sahara Resource Watch) calls on all companies involved in the transports to immediately halt all shipments of Western Sahara phosphate until a solution to the conflict has been found. Investorsare requested to engage or divest unless action is taken. Some of the clubs' Moroccan correspondents recommended that prevent calling the ''South Africa'' when carrying OCP  cargoes from Laayoune or  Dakhla ports  as they would be  arrested/detained.