Bulkers Caught Up in Western Sahara Dispute

The authorities in Panama have detained a dry bulk carrier loaded with around 55,000 tons of phosphate rock mined and sold from the disputed Moroccan region of Western Sahara, Reuters reports.

The 2016-built Supramax Ultra Innovation, managed by Denmark’s Ultrabulk, was detained under a maritime court order while traversing the Panama Canal after the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (the SADR) and the Frente Polisario claimed the cargo was transported illegally.

Ultra Innovation was transporting the cargo, valued at around USD 6 million, from El Aauin to the Port of Vancouver, Canada, for Agrium Inc.

The vessel is being held in the port of Panama and is under a judicial investigation.

World Maritime News contacted Ultrabulk for a comment, and the company is yet to reply.

This is the second seizure of vessels carrying phosphate from the disputed territory of Western Sahara this month.

Earlier in May, the Cherry Blossom, sailing under the flag of the Marshall Island, was detained in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, under a civil maritime court order.

The vessel, bound for New Zealand, will remain in detention after a court in South Africa reserved a judgement on the case and extended the hold on the ship until June 9.

The SADR and Polisario base their claims on last year’s ruling by a European court that Western Sahara should not be considered a part of the Morroccan Kingdom in trade deals between Morrocco and the European Union.

World Maritime News Staff

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