top of page

How West Africa Can Save Its Waters

Normally, it’s Chinese fishermen that make the headlines, as they sail farther and farther to trawl foreign waters after having depleted the seas closer to home. With its growing middle class hungry for seafood, China is certainly having the biggest impact on the world’s oceans – above all, off the coast of less-developed West African countries like Senegal, the Gambia, and Guinea. But according to a new report, Beijing isn’t the only villain in this trade.

For more than three years, EU member states authorized illegal fishing off the West African coast in contravention of numerous regional laws and norms. Using data from an online monitoring tool, Oceana, it was found that Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain awarded private fishing authorizations, granting individual vessels access to these waters in violation of EU law. These kinds of authorizations are hugely problematic because they’re negotiated with no transparency, with vessels hiding key information on target species, harvesting methods, and catches. The news lays bare the enforcement gaps in the protection of marine resources, and how even vessels from countries with strong legal frameworks routinely engage in illegal activities. With 90% of all fish stocks fully exploited or facing total depletion, West African governments need to take matters into their own hands to reap the full benefits of their maritime resources before it’s too late.

Rod Waddington

bottom of page