Senegal: Traditional fishers angry at foreign trawlers (RFI; Pressafrik)

| May 26, 2014

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Senegalese small-scale fishers are fighting for changes to an agreement between their government and the European Union.

The fishers argue that foreign-owned trawlers threaten their livelihoods and further deplete local fish stocks. Three years ago, they organized a “day without fish” in protest. And traditional fishers from the major fishing ports of Kayar, Saint Louis and Mbour are still frustrated with officials.

Abdoulaye Gueye Diop is the president of the National Collective of Artisanal Fishers of Senegal. He says, “The government gave licenses to foreign vessels because [they think Senegalese fishers] only do shallow sea fishing.” Mr. Gueye Diop argues that Senegalese fishers cannot survive if the government allows foreign trawlers to fish their waters.

The international environmental NGO Greenpeace is now calling on the Senegalese government to reconsider the terms of the recent fisheries agreement and protocol signed with the EU. This allows 38 European vessels access to Senegal’s fishing grounds.

Marie Suzanne Traoré is in charge of the Oceans Campaign for Greenpeace Africa. According to Ms. Traoré, the government stated it would involve local fishers before making any agreements with foreign bodies. She says, “By signing this document, the government of Senegal has decided to ignore the voice of Senegalese fishermen.”

The Senegalese government states that allowing the trawlers into Senegalese waters benefits the country economically, as local fisherman cannot reach migratory fish in deeper waters.

Ousmane Ndiaye is the Senegalese Director of Fisheries. He does not believe that deep-sea fish are available to the small-scale, traditional fishers. He says these resources have been trawled by foreign vessels for the past 20 years.

Fishermen are also angered by the government’s decision to charge foreign trawlers only $35 US per tonne of fish caught. Senegal’s neighbour, Mauritania, charges $37 US per tonne. The fisherfolk promise to continue fighting until the new fisheries agreement is changed.

Greenpeace Africa is calling on Senegal to develop a comprehensive, long-term, fisheries policy, one which guarantees conservation and sustainable use of marine resources to benefit all Senegalese people. The organization argues that the policy must also take into account the whole value chain − from catch to market to processed products.

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