Senegal is launching a program to promote transparency in the nation’s fisheries sector to clamp down on 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 the Environmental Justice Foundation and Trygg Mat Tracking aims to publish up-to-date fishing license lists and vessel registries online. It also will empower artisanal fishermen to play a role in surveillance and monitoring efforts at the port of Dakar and in the government’s fishing-related decision-making processes.
More than 30 industrial vessels were charged with illegally fishing in Senegal in 2020, the foundation reported. One of the project’s components is meant to allow stakeholders in the country’s fishing communities to document suspicious fishing activities.
“Unlike some other coastal countries in the region, Senegal has experience in participatory surveillance, and its authorities acknowledge its importance,” Steve Trent, the foundation’s chief executive officer and founder, told ADF in an email. “Small-scale fishers and local surveillance units work hand in hand to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU [illegal, unreported and unregulated] fishing. This work faces operational, technical and funding limitations, which the project will help overcome.”
The fishing industry provides more than 600,000 jobs domestically, and nearly 75% of the animal protein consumed in Senegal comes from fish. But 90% of the nation’s fisheries are fully fished or facing collapse, according to data compiled by the foundation and United Nations.
As in other parts of West Africa, Senegal’s fish mostly are exported to Asia and Europe, routinely as fishmeal or fish oil produced at Chinese-owned factories that pollute the environment. China is the world’s worst IUU fishing offender, according to the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.
Senegal’s government understands the importance of eliminating IUU fishing through enhanced transparency and enforcement measures and embraces the new project, Mactar Diallo, secretary-general of the Ministry of Fisheries and Maritime Economy, said in a report by Senegal Black Rainbow.
Diallo said foreign vessel owners may be fined up to nearly $1.8 million for illegal fishing.
“In case of recurrence, we can go as far as the confiscation of the ship,” Diallo said.