It wasn’t just a shout that reverberated across my country Senegal: it was so much more. It was a cry that erupted from artisanal fishermen, a chorus of "no" to the proposed fisheries agreement between the European Union and Senegal.
From Senegal’s capital Dakar to Cap Skirring, I have heard artisanal fishermen saying that they do not see why our government would want a new fishing agreement, especially when fish stocks are already in such a poor state. Listening to them, I firmly believe that any discussions should be postponed until specific legal and scientific issues are addressed.
More importantly, although the revised fishing law seems to provide significant advances to promote sustainable resource management, it does not give the necessary responses to the situation of the Senegalese fisheries.
Indeed, under this revised law one of the prerequisites for issuance of fishing licenses, is access to the resources.
I question the issue of access, among others, that the new law will cover particularly when it comes to sustainably managing our resources. For me it is logical that these should be resolved now.
Again, renowned scientists are still alarmed by the state of Senegal’s fish stocks, with many of the species in a state of either overexploitation or full exploitation.
And so these are some of the reasons why I’m standing behind my fellow Senegalese; families whose entire way of life depends on fisheries. These artisanal fishermen are making a simple plea: that our existing legislation is based on science – and that this analysis should happen before anyone concludes negotiations around the opening of our waters to international fishing vessels.
I couldn’t agree more.