Scandal over coastal pelagic fishing licenses

Greenpeace concerned about emerging information confirming impunity in addressing infringements

Press release - March 27, 2012
Dakar, March 22, 2012 – Greenpeace today reminded the Senegalese Maritime Economy minister to ensure that fishing license laws are strictly enforced. This follows reports of impunity and the granting of illegal fishing to foreign pelagic trawlers; a practice that has already provoked a spate of reactions in Senegal.

The Union of Employees of the Maritime Economy ministry (SYNAP) has also publicly voiced its indignation in front of the impunity of trawlers yet convinced of illegal practices. Indeed, the SYNAP has denounced the abandonment of sanctions against 13 foreign trawlers caught red-handed fishing illegally and boarded these last weeks.1    

Raoul Monsembula of Greenpeace Africa said: “Among these pirate trawlers is the notoriously repeat offender  ‘Oleg Naydenov’, that Greenpeace has recently documented the latest illegal activities. 2                           

“According to our information, ‘Oleg Naydenov’ and 14 foreign trawlers have effectively been identified by the Infringement Committee of the Maritime Economy Ministry, which recommended a series of sanctions complying with the existing law, ranging between simple fine (CFA F 3 to 5 million) to aggravated fine for repeat offence (to the extent of CFA F 60 million), and in the most serious cases, the confiscation of catches and the withdrawal of the fishing license (Oleg Naydenov and Zohor Sorokin)’, he added.

“In fact, most of these trawlers have repeatedly been guilty of serious crimes, according to the Marine Fishing Code (especially because those areas, close to the coast and to spawning areas, must be preserved to secure the livelihood of Senegalese fishermen and ensure stock reconstitution.   So how come those pirate trawlers which are repeat offenders could leave, without being judged, and keep on plundering the Yaboye (sardinella) at the expense of the Senegalese artisanal fishermen, and of the consumer basket? ),” continued Monsembula.

Other sources confirm that the minister made such a decision. In reaction to that issue, the SYNAP has denounced « the decision of the Minister [of Maritime Economy] Khoureïchi Thiam to cancel the fines applied on vessels [Thor, Coral, Stark and Mikhail Verbesky], amounting to more than CFA F 120 million… by issuing a letter n°002 3 MEM/CAB/SG/SP on March 8, [2012] 3»;  

“According to information at our disposal, 14 giant pelagic trawlers – with catching capacities of up to 250 tonnes per day, have been « authorized » to haunt Senegalese waters. Out of any legal framework, and confident they will be allowed free hand, these foreign trawlers, mostly Russian ones and sailing under flags of convenience, systematically plunder pelagic resources and threaten sustainability” said Monsembula.

Greenpeace urges the Maritime Economy Minister to immediately end preferential treatment and protection to foreign trawlers and their domestic consignees, by strictly enforcing the law and applying the sanctions laid down.

Greenpeace also demands the immediate cancellation of the fishing licenses granted to foreign pelagic trawlers, that conflict with the Senegalese law;the establishment of a moratorium on any new license; as well as the opening of an investigation on the conditions for the granting of such illegal licenses since 2010.  

Contacts:

  • Raoul Monsembula, Oceans campaign officer, Greenpeace Africa, +221 77 332 89 93, Email : rmonsembula@greenpeace.org
  • Jerôme Frignet, Oceans and forests campaign officer, Greenpeace, + 221 77 386 61 38, Email :
  • Bakary Coulibaly, Greenpeace Africa Communications, +221 77 413 84 73,

1 RFM, Radio interview, March 21, 2012.

2 Greenpeace, Statement, March, 8, 2012, Dakar.

3 National Fishing Employees Union, Press release, March 13, 2012, Dakar