11 October 2012
German Trawler Maartje Theadora
German fishing super trawler 140m long Maartje Theadora, 30 miles off the coast of Mauritania. Greenpeace is campaigning in West Africa for the establishment of a sustainable, low impact fisheries policy that takes into account the needs and interests of small-scale fishermen and the local communities that depend on healthy oceans.
© Greenpeace / Pierre Gleizes
If there was ever a scandal that needed definitive action to be taken against those responsible for it, it is the issue of fishing permits in Senegal between March 2010 and April 2012. The effects of large factory trawlers that were granted permission to plunder Senegalese waters during this time, are still being felt by local communities.
There were many warning signs seen by local artisanal fishermen, scientists, industry, and international organisations. But the government in power then had no time to answer its people while it was so busy lining its pockets.
The results of a survey conducted by Greenpeace show that fishing licenses were distributed in a "You want it? You got it!" fashion to foreign trawlers. European and Russian vessels of staggering capacity were being allowed to fish in Senegalese waters without restriction.
The tragedy of it all is that the behaviour of the Senegalese authorities at the time bordered on that of great criminals. Their actions undermined the food security and livelihoods of millions of people.
The money generated from these acts of plunder should be reinvested in priority sectors of the industry, or even repaid in full to the public treasury, but it is still not passing through the nets of the population.
The issuance of these permits was not regulated and largely exceeded the number that was said to have been allocated. Similarly, the money from these licenses is also underestimated because official, recorded rates are below what was actually paid for them. Today, no one can say exactly the immeasurable harm that the dignitaries of the former government have caused the population.
So, while the new authorities in power in Senegal promised effective governance and protection, they must ensure that the country's fishery resources are protected too, and conduct an investigation to determine responsibility for the plunder of Senegal’s birthright.
With the cancellation of the authorizations granted to 29 foreign vessels, the new government has already shown the way forward and I hope, as millions of other Senegalese people do, that such crime will not happen again!
No! No! Never again!
Download the full report: Plunder Of A Nation's Birthright.