Greenpeace and Senegalese Fishermen Tackle Overfishing

Crew members of the Greenpeace's ship Arctic Sunrise deploy banners in front of Russian fishing trawler VASILIY LOZOVSKIY 20 miles off the coast of Senegal. West African waters including those of Senegal have been subject to overfishing for decades, the effects of which are being felt by local communities. The scientific community recognizes that fishing capacity of many stocks must be reduced in order to ensure the long term sustainability of West Africa’s marine resources. Greenpeace is campaigning in West Africa for the establishment of a sustainable, low impact fisheries policy that takes into account the needs and interests of small-scale fishermen and the local communities that depend on healthy oceans. © Pierre Gleizes / Greenpeace

As Senegalese presidential hopefuls battle it out ahead of the upcoming elections, Greenpeace and community fishermen are calling on them to make African fisheries – and the many livelihoods that depend on them – a priority.

Earlier last week, the beautiful Greenpeace ship, the “Arctic Sunrise”, was welcomed into port by about 50 artisanal fishermen, who paddled out to meet the ship in their pirogues – a form of traditional canoe used in West Africa.

Also there to meet the ship were a number of guests from embassies, representatives of the fishing industry, scientists, and government officials: a good turnout of key players needed to secure the sustainability of Senegal’s marine resources.

It was sad, however, that there were no representatives from local political parties.

It’s no secret that Senegal's fisheries are being emptied – and largely due to foreign vessels trawling in West African waters. The daily haul of some of these ships is up to 300 tons of fish: what 50 local boats would catch in a year!

If that rate is kept up, we’ll leave our children with empty seas.

It’s why Greenpeace and local fishermen are urging politicians and future leaders to make clear commitments that will ensure food security and the livelihoods of millions of Senegalese people who depend on fishing.

In a joint statement addressed to presidential candidates, Greenpeace and local fishermen said: "We are determined to jointly mobilise against the granting of fishing licenses to foreign fleets until the conditions for sustainable fisheries have been established in Senegalese waters."

The Arctic Sunrise will sail the Senegalese coast for the coming days to document and expose overfishing by foreign (and often illegal) trawlers.

Add your voice to the call for sustainable fisheries in West Africa.