Africa's Poor Need Immediate Solutions

Press release - February 28, 2011
Greenpeace today called for responsible fishing agreements that will help develop a robust, locally operated and financed fishing industry in West Africa.

Dakar, 26 February 2011 -- Addressing stakeholders at the end of the Greenpeace Africa Board meeting, the Chairman Charles Abani outlined the three pronged campaigns of Greenpeace - saving the Congo Basin Rainforest, stopping over fishing and pirate fishing on the West Coast of Africa, and stopping climate change by saying no to dirty energy in South Africa.

He noted that that the Oceans campaign will cover the region from Mauretania to Cameroon, with the office operating out of Dakar, Senegal. West Africa has some of the richest fishing grounds in the world, yet people are poorer and hungrier than ever and fish consumption is actually dropping.

He said that since the organisation was launched in November 2008, it has increasingly become a key voice for environmental justice across the continent; “we are about people, actions and solutions, especially those that respond to the needs of poor and vulnerable African’s needs”, he said.

Speaking at the same function, the Executive Director Michelle Ndiaye Ntab noted that with the establishment of the office in Senegal, the organisation was extending its campaigns into West Africa. “We have made big strides in our campaigns in the DRC and South Africa. By moving into West Africa and establishing the oceans campaign, we will be able to consolidate our efforts on a continent that is bearing the brunt of climate change, “she noted.

With fish stocks being heavily overfished worldwide, West Africa’s waters are being affected by large foreign fleets notably from Asia and the European Union which are shifting their operations to West Africa, because the fish stocks in their own waters are overfished. In addition, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing - also known as IUU or pirate fishing - is rampant in the region and is putting further pressure on West Africa's marine resources. West African countries do not have the capacity for effective monitoring, surveillance and control which opens the door for unscrupulous fishermen.

Ntab also noted that the overfishing and pirate fishing by foreign fleets is leading to the loss of local jobs and industries. "We need responsible fishing agreements between foreign fleets and West African countries that truly help develop a locally operated and financed fishing industry in West Africa”, she added.

Greenpeace is advocating for sustainable fishing and fish processing operations managed and financed by Africans, providing livelihoods, food security and enabling poverty reduction in the region and the elimination of destructive fishing practices to ensure sustainable levels of marine life.

 “Only if there is a surplus of fish stocks it should be fished by foreign fleets: to secure the needs (income, food-security, employment) of the West-African countries is the first priority. We need solutions and we need them now”, Ntab concluded.