EU Offers to Help Senegal Border Patrol Fight Illegal Fishing
The European Commission has offered to deploy the European Union’s (EU) border agency, known as Frontex, to Senegal to help it battle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and stop migrant smuggling.
If Senegal accepts the offer, it would be the first time Frontex will be deployed outside the EU’s jurisdiction, according to SeafoodSource. Frontex typically uses planes and vessels to patrol and monitor the seas.
“This is my offer and I hope that Senegal’s government is interested in this unique opportunity,” EC Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said in a SeafoodSource report.
Senegal had not made a decision on the offer, as of mid-March.
The fishing industry provides more than 600,000 jobs in Senegal, and nearly 75% of the animal protein consumed there comes from fish. But 90% of the nation’s fisheries are fully fished or facing collapse, according to data compiled by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) and the United Nations.
Throughout West Africa, illegal marine trade costs almost $1.95 billion across the fish value chain and $593 million per year in household income.
IUU fishing “is one of the scourges plaguing our sector,” Moustapha Ly, secretary-general of Senegal’s Ministry of Fisheries and Maritime Economy, said in a 2021 report by Senegal Black Rainbow. Ly said the country loses at least 150 billion Central African CFA francs (more than $252 million) annually to IUU fishing.
Chinese-owned fishmeal and fish oil factories have proliferated in the past decade, contributing to declining fish stocks and loss of income for artisanal fishermen, locals say. Fishmeal factories pulverize fish into powder to feed to farmed seafood, such as shrimp, and also to feed pigs, chickens and other animals.
The factories pose a dire food security threat because they usually are supplied by large foreign trawlers that catch tons of fish a day. China is the world’s top importer of fishmeal and one of the world’s top shrimp exporters.
About nine such factories have been built in Senegal, but due to angry backlash from local fishing communities, only three or four operated in 2021, according to Greenpeace Africa.
Last year, the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) and Trygg Mat Tracking (TMT), a fisheries intelligence analysis company, joined forces with Senegal’s government on a new program to promote transparency among the nation’s fisheries and rid the country of illegal fishing.
Funded by Oceans 5, a philanthropic organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans, the nearly $1.2 million, three-year project with EJF and TMT publishes up-to-date fishing license lists and vessel registries online. It also will empower artisanal fishermen to help surveil and monitor the port of Dakar, and participate in government fishing decisions.
In 2020, more than 30 industrial vessels were charged with illegally fishing in Senegal, the foundation reported. One of the project’s components will help fishing communities document suspicious fishing.
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