News / Africa

West Africa Aims to Stop Illegal Fishing

Fish for sale in Dakar, Senegal (2012 photo)Fish for sale in Dakar, Senegal (2012 photo)
x
Fish for sale in Dakar, Senegal (2012 photo)
Fish for sale in Dakar, Senegal (2012 photo)
Jennifer Lazuta

U.S. and European navies are teaming up with their counterparts from eight West African countries to conduct joint training operations off the coast of Senegal from now through March 14. The majority of the exercises are aimed at combating illegal fishing off the West African coast. In Dakar local fishermen and fish lovers are suffering as foreign, industrial-size trawlers net large numbers of fish and ship them primarily to European and Asian markets.
 

Issa Diene has been fishing the coast off Dakar for 10 years. He used to bring in $30 - $40 a day. Now, he says he is lucky to make $10.
 

He says the marine life and his livelihood are being destroyed by the "big boats."

Diene says they fish secretly at night, without a license. They leave their nets in the water and that kills the fish. He says the local fisherman cannot catch anything now.

When you go out to sea, you find nothing. Sometimes, he says, he takes his boat out more than 50 kilometers, but still there is nothing.


International agencies working to stop "illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing" say that the clandestine nature of the practice makes it impossible to know how many fish are being poached. Environmental watchdog group Greenpeace says some trawlers can scoop up as much 250 tons of fish per day, emptying coastal areas.


In 2012, the Senegalese government revoked the fishing licenses of 29 trawlers found to be operating outside of international fishing regulations.


The director of Senegal’s Ministry of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Cheikh Sarr, said enforcement agents often lack the resources to monitor who has a license or to stop trawlers found to be fishing illegally.


He says the authorities often get information about foreign boats off the coast that do not have permits to fish in Senegal, but officials do not have the resources to do anything about it. He says even national boats with licenses have been illegally catching endangered species and fishing in protected zones. This has been going on for a while, he says, and the country's natural resources are being depleted and the economy is suffering.


Seafood exports are down, and locals say the price of fish has climbed.


One ‘thiouf’- a popular fish used to prepare Senegal’s national dish, thieboudienne - cost just a dollar 10 years ago. Today, it sells for as much $6 at local fish markets, and that is, if you can find it.


Turning that around will take constant monitoring and is one of the main goals of the maritime exercises, known as Saharan Express 2013.


American and European naval officers are leading maritime personnel from Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Liberia, Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal, and Sierra Leone in the training exercises aimed at better patrolling their waters.


Capt. Andrew Lennon, of the U.S. Sixth Fleet, is the exercise director. "We have a bunch of scenarios planned in our exercise where we will suspect a vessel of fishing illegally, query them, ask them to stop and we will send a boarding team onto the vessel to inspect their catch. You can just imagine how challenging it could be for any individual to look at a hold full of fish and determine what species those are. Are those species allowed to be fished, or not? And so it’s a very complex problem," Lennon said.
 

Authorities declined to say who the biggest offenders are.


International watchdog groups say that although it is often hard to identify the origin of vessels found to be engaging in illegal or unregulated fishing, many have been known to come from Russia, China and some European Union member states. The majority of their catch is sold throughout Asia, Europe and the United States.


As naval forces crack down, authorities back on land are working to rebuild what has been lost.


Senegal's Ministry of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs says it is has been creating fish farms in local waters to try to replenish lost populations, educating local fishermen to try to regenerate what marine life remains and promoting sustainable fishing practices for the future.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid