"Overfishing Affects Me Too!"

Small-scale fishermen and women in Dakar, Senegal, send a clear message to their government about the impact that "Monster Boats" are having on the size of their catches and their livelihoods. 20/11/2014 © Greenpeace


Overfishing is no fairy tale; it’s a sad, harsh reality of life in the ocean today. Already, 90% of fish stocks are either fully or overexploited and that wave of lifeless oceans is already spreading to West African waters.

Once freely available at out markets at affordable prices, fish is becoming more and more expensive — and worse, rare. 

It’s no secret that so-called “monster boats" are a major factor in the dwindling amount of fish in the ocean. They are recognisable either by their large size, their massive fish-catching capacity, their severe impact on the marine environment, or their weak compliance with marine regulations.

Their motto is a simple one: “Catching more for more profit”

Driven by an insatiable hunger for profit, Monster Boats go to extreme lengths to fill their hulls, brushing right up alongside small scale fishermen, eating up their catch and their way of life. They’re always on a quest for more fish for more money.

17 November 2014 Protest Action Against the Margiris Super Trawler

Greenpeace activists in an inflatable intercept the world’s second largest factory fishing trawler, the FV Margiris and attempt to block the monster ship from entering Port Lincoln in South Australia. A banner reads 'No Super Trawlers'. 08/30/2012


Did you say environmental impact? That’s the last item on their business plan. They catch everything in their passage, including protected species like sharks, whales, turtles… everything. Like bulldozers in the forest, they swallow everything in their passage, leaving behind a wasteland, an aquatic desert. 

Their business model is not focussed on the long term. Like massive harvesters they trawl the ocean — it’s all about maximizing profits. But what they forget is that unlike with crops, we don’t ‘plant’ fish, so we can’t just keep on harvesting and harvesting — the crop will run out.

In a Greenpeace list of 20 European Monster Boats most responsible for overfishing in the world's oceans, the Margiris, the Annelies Ilena, and the Helen Mary are three that often trawl in West African waters. Mauritanian artisanal fishermen who already travel long distance to fill their nets have often reported crossing paths with these monsters. In their small canoe-like fishing pirogues, small-scale fishermen are no match for the likes of the Helen Mary who, in one haul, can catch what fifty pirogues will catch in a year! [Watch here]

If nothing is done, the last pirogue will soon be buried!

These greedy monsters should be pulled from the oceans. They have no place in West Africa and our governments have a key role in this regard — to protect local fishermen, the economy they sustainably support, and the citizens they feed. It is now urgent that firm measures are put in place, giving preferential access to those fishing sustainably — both for the environment and the communities they support.

Overfishing affects me, it affects you, and it will affect our children if strict measures are not taken now. Otherwise, like dinosaurs and dodos, ocean life will become nothing but a fairy tale, a distant memory alive only in story books.

17 November 2014 Artisanal Fishermen in Senegal

Artisanal fishing pirogues leave the fishing port of Kafountine, Casamance. As foreign fishing trawlers have moved into West African waters and fish stocks have dwindled, so small-scale fishermen have been forced to travel further out and for longer periods of time to catch the same amount as before. 07/25/2012 © Clément Tardif / Greenpeace