Taking Parliament to the Oceans

Parliament Workshop held in Senegal to discuss sustainable fisheries management

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Feature story - October 7, 2013
As West African oceans face unprecedented pressure from international fishing vessels, Greenpeace is holding a workshop with Senegalese parliamentarians to discuss the impending crisis – and ways to turn it all around.

Fishing plays a crucial role in the Senegalese economy. It accounts for 2.5 % of GDP and generates about 600,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The ocean is also Senegal’s breadbasket. On average Senegalese people consume 26kgs of fish a year; the country is one of the largest fish consumers in the region. Fish products are also the main source of animal protein for the population, making up over 60 % of total animal protein intake.

Simply put: Healthy oceans mean healthy people. 

Today the Senegalese fishing sector is experiencing a severe crisis. Resources are collapsing and it’s seriously threatening the jobs and food security of millions. In recent years European, Russian, and Asian fishing fleets have caused a drastic reduction in fish stocks, with significant effects on the local fishing industry and marine biodiversity.

By catching in a day what 100 small-scale fishing boats catch in a whole year, these Monster Boats are plundering our oceans and selling away Africa’s Future. In 2012, Senegal’s President Macky Sall took a first step in the right direction: 29 licenses granted to foreign fishing vessels were suspended. However, it is crucial that this process be sustained and reinforced locally, but also in the rest of West Africa where the state of fish stocks has become critical.

Greenpeace Africa, in conjunction with the Network of Parliamentarians for the Protection of the Environment in Senegal (REPES), has now organized a workshop with selected members of Senegal’s parliament. The theme of the meeting is "Sustainable management of marine resources in Senegal".

The purpose of this workshop is to raise MPs awareness, through socio-economic and scientific arguments, about the severely declining state of West Africa’s oceans. It will also be a very valuable platform for discussing solutions and alternatives for better management.

In Senegal, certain fish species like the white grouper (“Thiof”) perfectly illustrate the scourge gnawing our oceans. Previously widely available on market stalls for all budgets, this iconic species is now only available to a fraction of the population and at very high prices.

The survival of the Senegalese fishing sector and the livelihoods of those working in it depend on the adoption and implementation of fishery policies that guarantee the sustainable use of healthy and well-managed fisheries.

These problems are of primary concern to parliamentarians who play a crucial role in defining and monitoring the implementation of public policies. This is why it is important that they be informed and made aware of the current state of fisheries, what threatens them, and how they can be protected.