After the removal of AFP (Association of Pelagic Freezer Ships) boats from Mauritanian waters about a week ago, it was the Senegalese government’s turn to cancel all fishing authorizations allocated to pelagic trawlers operating in its waters.
This decision is timely and is a huge step in the fight against overfishing by foreign vessels in Senegal in particular and in the entire West African region.
For over a year, Greenpeace has campaigned intensively for the cancellation of these authorizations. These licenses constituted a serious threat to the livelihoods of millions of Senegalese who depend on the ocean’s resources for their jobs and food security.
Organizing a travelling caravan called "My voice, my future," that engaged artisanal fishermen across the country, launching an online petition, meeting with politicians, and organizing an ship tour to expose and document overfishing in Senegalese waters, were some of the actions Greenpeace took to achieve this result.
It is also collaboration between different Greenpeace offices that has achieved this major goal.
After meeting with the Greenpeace team in Senegal, Macky Sall, then still a presidential candidate but now the elected President, had publicly said that, if elected he would act to end the plunder of Senegalese waters by foreign vessels. This cancellation is the first step to keeping that promise.
But with this decision, it is mainly hope that is reborn. Hope to see a new generation of politicians appear – politicians who highlight the collective interest, rather than personal interests, politicians who act rather than sit as spectators while Africa’s wealth is plundered.
The West African waters are a prime fishing area, and foreign vessels emptying them and often doing so with the complicity of politicians.
We’d like to see the example set by Senegal spread throughout the sub-region. It should remind leaders that with political will and courage, they can change the course of events and shape the future of their people for the better.