Save our Seas!

Greenpeace and Senegalese fishermen unite to tackle overfishing

Feature story - February 16, 2012
One of our ships, the Arctic Sunrise, has just arrived in Dakar. It was welcomed by more than fifty local fishermen, eager to tackle the problem of overfishing in their waters.

The Arctic Sunrise

The Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, has just arrived in Dakar for a tour of West African seas to document unsustainable fishing practices and their effect on local communities. © Christian Åslund / Greenpeace

 

In the coming weeks the Arctic Sunrise will sail the West African waters to document and expose the overexploitation of marine resources by foreign fleets.

The tour aims to draw the world's attention to the plight of Senegalese Fishermen whose resources are being plundered by international trawlers.

“Our resources are being over exploited and the situation is made worse by big foreign industrial trawlers who are literally emptying the waters of Senegal”, says Raoul Monsembula, Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace Africa.

Yesterday Greenpeace protested against the 106 meters long Russian trawler, the Vasili Lozovski, which was fishing in Senegalese waters. European and Senegalese activists carried a banner saying “Stop Fishing Away Africa’s Future”.

Relocated Exploitation

West African waters, including those of Senegal, have been subject to overfishing for decades and it’s having a drastic effect on local communities.

The long-term sustainability of West Africa’s marine resources depends on fishing rates being lowered – a condition well understood in scientific communities, but seemingly ignored by trawlers and licence providers.

Local Fishermen in St Louis

Local fishermen in St Louis. Organised by Greenpeace, the “My Voice, My Future” caravan documents small-scale fishing communities and the impact of foreign super-trawlers on local fish stocks. 01/17/2012 © Clément Tardif / Greenpeace

 

The European Commission says that 62% of European fish stocks are overfished in the Atlantic and 82% in the Mediterranean. So, having overexploited fish stocks in their own waters, foreign fleets – in particular Russian, Asian, and European – have moved to the waters of countries like Senegal.

Africa is essentially feeding foreign countries at the expense of its own development and sustainability. 

These fleets are plundering our seas, compromising the food security and livelihoods of coastal communities who have been depending on artisanal fishing for centuries.

Almost one million people are employed in Senegal’s fishing sector, including fishermen, processors, wholesalers, carriers, and vendors: one million people who face unemployment as the fisheries continue to decline.

Solutions 

“Greenpeace is campaigning together with local Senegalese fishermen who see their catches shrinking due to competition with these big foreign trawlers”, concludes Raoul Monsembula.

Greenpeace is calling for the establishment of a sustainable, low-impact fisheries policy that would take into account the needs and interests of small-scale fishermen and the local communities that depend on healthy oceans.