This 8th of March, the world is once again celebrating women in a context marked by the considerable negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The global economy is affected and the West African fishing sector is not spared.
The situation is even more complex in Senegal with the presence of fishmeal and fish oil factories which are in direct competition with local consumption and deprive women fish processors of their work and their main source of income.
Although the activity of these women is crucial for food security and socio-economic stability in Senegal, from a legal point of view they are vulnerable because their profession is not legally recognised by the administrative authorities and they have been chasing the legal recognition of their profession as fish processors for years.
On this special day, we are asking the state for legal recognition of the status of women fish processors and the closure of fishmeal and fish oil factories,” said Diaba Diop, president of the Senegalese Network of Artisanal Fishing Women (REFEPAS).
Moreover, the figures revealed by the latest FAO report show once again the seriousness of the ravages of the fishmeal and fish oil industries on the fishing industry in Senegal.
According to the document published in January 2022, the fishmeal factories installed in Senegal employed 129 permanent workers and 264 temporary workers in 2018, generally recruited from the local population. These industries thus have little socio-economic weight, while they represent a major threat to the livelihoods of 600,000 workers in the artisanal fisheries sector.
“It is time for West African governments to stop the establishment of fishmeal factories and to take steps to ban the use of whole fish for human consumption in the fishmeal and fish oil factories that have already been set up,” argued Abdoulaye Ndiaye, Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace Africa.
The raw material used in these factories consists of large quantities of small pelagic fish caught and then processed into fishmeal or fish oil to feed animals in developed countries at the expense of local consumption.
“The State of Senegal would benefit from following the example of Mauritania, which has begun to restrict the use of certain species of fish fit for human consumption in the production of fishmeal. Senegal should limit these factories to the use of local production of fish waste and scraps,” said Abdoulaye Ndiaye, Greenpeace Africa’s oceans campaigner.
Greenpeace draws the attention of the Senegalese authorities to the fact that the socio-economic survival of hundreds of thousands of fishermen is at stake and that they are waiting for strong action from their state.
Amagor Robert NIANG
Media and Communications for West Africa
Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace Africa.