Greenpeace releases groundbreaking report on Senegal Sardinella plunder

Press release - October 10, 2012
Dakar – Today marks the launch of a groundbreaking Greenpeace report detailing the plunger of Senegal ‘small pelagic resources by foreign trawler fleets.

The 20 page report, covering a 25 month period between March 2010 and April this year, is titled ‘ The plunder of a nation’s birthright: A drama in five acts’ and lays bare the extent to which foreign fleets have sidestepped international and local laws to get permits legalizing their pillage of traditional fishing grounds.

"Because of greed and bad governance, future Senegalese generations might well never know the fish species which their ancestors took as their birthright, losing both a much-needed source of animal protein and job opportunities that their parents and grandparents enjoyed for centuries’, said Ahmed Diamé, Greenpeace Africa’s Oceans Campaigner.

Small pelagic fishing is the main part of the local fishing industry, accounting for 70% of all landings, but the entire sector is in imminent danger of irretrievable collapse – due to the foreign factory ships which lie off shore, ensuring that the pelagic catch is not even landed in Senegal any more, but exported directly abroad.

Scientists at CECAF-FAO have been fighting a losing battle to warn West African states and their governments of the danger of overfishing of certain pelagic species, particularly Sardinella, but Greenpeace has found that officials in the industry have been issuing permits legalizing the fishing of these species. To make matters worse, the Senegalese government department in charge of public finance has hardly seen a franc from the license fees.

Greenpeace has also established that foreign owners are paying officials within the department of public finance US$35 per tonne which is less than anywhere else in West Africa and in direct contravention of an agreement signed in 2011, when a Russian delegation committed to paying $100 per tonne. A manager of the Murmansk trawler fleet recently told Russian media that the company was now paying $120 per tonne.

Effectively, the people and state of Senegal have been robbed of $15 million in the last year, based on official figures of 52 000 ton catches in 2011 and 125 000 tons caught during this year’s early season.

“Today, Greenpeace demands that the Government of Senegal immediately establish a commission of enquiry into this theft of public resources, to enable prosecutors to build criminal cases against all the players; individuals and companies, involved and not just stop this practice, but also recoup the monies stolen from the people”, continued Diame

“The only sustainable answer, not just for Senegal, but the entire West African community, is for governments to implement the minim basic requirements, underpinned by transparency and good governance, not just to protect the fisheries, but also to sustain it for the benefit of the very people it is supposed to feed, employ and support”, concluded Diame.


  • Ahmed Diame, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Africa. Tel: 221 773 328 994. ahmed.diame@
  • Bakary Coulibaly, Communications Officer Greenpeace Africa. Tel: 221 773 336 265.   

Notes to the Editor:

(1) Ministry of Maritime Economy, Résultats généraux des pêches maritimes, 2010 available at :

(2) COPACE, 20è session, Rabat , Maroc du 14 au 16 mars 2012. Available at :

 Download The Plunder Of A Nation's Birthright here: