The German Corporation Cognis Cuts All Purchases from Morocco
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After revelations on Swedish and Norwegian TV, Cognis terminates all purchases of fish oil from Western Sahara and Morocco.

Published 02 April 2010

This article was published in the Norwegian fisheries newspaper FiskeribladetFiskaren on 17 March 2010. Translated by the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara.

Cuts out Moroccan Oil
Norwegian Napro Pharma will from now on cut out all use of fish oil from Morocco, after the revelations on Swedish television. GC Rieber says that all their customers received clear information as to where the oil was from.

GC Rieber Oils AS in Kristiansand says that they always state the country of origin of the fish oil they deliver to companies worldwide, whereas the buyers claim they were never told. Managing Director of GC Rieber Oils, Arne Alnæs, states clearly that they also buy oil from fish caught off the coast of Western Sahara in Africa. 

“Our customers worldwide know in full where the fish supplying the oil they purchase is caught,” he said firmly.

Part Owners
From El Aaiun in Western Sahara on to Tan-Tan or Agadir in Morocco is, according to Alnæs, a common route for ships that carry oil for them. Rieber delivers it on in bulk to its buyers. “We are part owners of the oil factory Maromega in Tan-Tan, a large producer of oil in Morocco,” Alnæs said.

The Swedish programme showed that large amounts of oil were shipped from KB Fish in Western Sahara to Rieber. Anonymous sources claim to FiskeribladetFiskaren that Rieber also has proprietary interest there. 

It is the company Napro Pharme in Brattvåg in Møre and Romsdal, Norway, that produces omega-3 pills for the Swedish market.

“Napro Pharma is fully aware of where the oil for the pills comes from,” Alnæs said.

Sustainable Fishing
Napro Pharma produces foods and dietary supplements. It was bought out by the German-owned corporation Cognis in 2006, according to The Brønnøysund Register Centre. On its web pages Napro Pharma promotes “sustainable-source fish oil products.” It writes further that “our omega-3 fish oil is manufactured in accordance with high…standards, and we can provide customers with branded finished products that are ready-to-market.” This is what it does for the three Swedish companies - that is, without stating the origin. 

Suspected Nothing
Napro Pharma in Norway will not answer questions in this case but refers us to the parent corporation Cognis near Düsseldorf in Germany. Communications Manager Susanne Sengel stated that the company originally did not know where the fish oil was from.

“After receiving queries from Swedish journalists, we checked with our suppliers. They said most came from Chile and Peru and a little from Morocco,” Sengel said. They asked GC Rieber to specify whether any of it was from Western Sahara.

"They could not rule out that possibility but believed that the quality of the fish from there was not high enough," Sengel added. After they saw the Swedish programme this past Wednesday, Cognis got in touch with GC Rieber again. They were then informed that it was impossible to rule out that the oil was produced from fish caught off the shore of Western Sahara.

Cognis therefore now demands to know exactly how much of the fish stems from there. Furthermore, they no longer want fish from that region.

“We will go even further and terminate all use of fish from Morocco,” Sengel concluded.

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