How Africa is feeding Europe

EU (over)fishing in West Africa

Publication - September 30, 2010
Many of Europe's fishing fleets have the capacity to fish two to three times more than the sustainable level. This overcapacity has led to the current dire state of European fisheries. In European waters, the level of overfishing is higher than the global average, with an estimated 88% of European fish stocks in a poor state. Rather than solve this problem, the EU has progressively been increasing their capacity in seas beyond its own to meet the growing global demand for seafood and to keep their fleets in business. Several of Europe's largest vessels are currently operating in waters of some of the world's poorest nations through fisheries partnership agreements or joint ventures, undermining local food security by failing to adequately consider the local communities need for localfish as a source of protein and income.

For a period of five weeks between 24 February and 1 April 2010, the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise sailed the waters of Mauritania and Senegal in an attempt to understand the scale and type of foreign fishing in the region.  During this period, Greenpeace documented 126 fishing vessels (excluding canoes / pirogues) and four reefers (a refrigerated ship normally used for transporting fish).  Of the 93 foreign vessels that have been documented, 61 were from the EU. 

This Expedition Report provides a basic overview of the type of vessels encountered during the expedition, highlighting some of the problems of overfishing through specific examples.

According to views expressed by local fishermen in Senegal and Mauritania, a consequence of foreign operations in West Africa local fishing communities sees their own catch diminish and sees the destruction of local marine resources at the hands of foreign operators, while the communities themselves reap few if any of the benefits.

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