- Inhabitants of Cayar, Senegal, have filed a lawsuit against TPM factory owners, claiming it is polluting their land, air and water and destroying their livelihoods.
- Community members also announce former Spanish factory owners have sold their stake.
- Community now pledges to shut down the factory and its new ownership.
Dakar, 19 September – Representatives of the Taxawu Cayar Collective from the town of Cayar, Senegal, accompanied their lawyer today as he submitted a summons to the High Court of Thiès requesting an injunction that would temporarily close Cayar’s unpopular Touba Protéine Marine fishmeal factory (ex Barna Senegal).
At an in-person hearing at the High Court of Thiès on 22 September, members of the Taxawu Cayar Collective plan to submit evidence showing both that the factory, its management and owners have repeatedly broken Senegal’s environmental code and that an environmental impact assessment performed before the factory opened was riddled with inaccuracies.
West African communities have been protesting against the fishmeal and fish oil industry for years, but the Cayar community’s new legal challenge represents an unprecedented escalation in their struggle.
To mark this new stage, the Collective also announced that following a sustained campaign by local fisheries workers and other inhabitants of the town, the Spanish company Barna has given up and sold its ownership of the Cayar factory to the local managers.
Maty Ndao, a fish processor from Cayar, highlighted the collective’s successes so far. “The people of Senegal are fighting back against the fishmeal and fish oil industry, and now big business is running scared,” she said. “We protested and lobbied, and the Spanish owners ran away. But the new owners are the same factory managers who have made us suffer for years. They tried to buy off our community and they also tried threats, but none of it worked and we won’t stop fighting. We’ve come to court today and we’re going to shut them down.”
Mor Mbengue, a fisherman from Cayar who has been campaigning against the factory for years, emphasized the danger that factories like this one pose to local people, the environment and the economy. “They’re forcing us to live with a nauseating smell in the air, and they’re dumping waste in the lake that supplies our drinking water. It’s making our kids sick,” he said. “Plus, these factories do nothing for us. They employ only a tiny number of people, destroy the jobs of women fish processors and have encouraged overfishing. People are losing their jobs, they can’t afford to feed their families and soon there will be no fish left.”
Notes to editors
Photos of the collective submitting the summons are available here.
On 22 September an in-person hearing for the temporary injunction will be held at the High Court of Thiès at 8:30 am.
Contact presse (West Africa)
Amagor Robert NIANG