You’ve heard a lot lately about our campaign to save the oceans and feed the world— simultaneously fighting hunger and revitalizing ocean ecosystems. The Guardian recently ran a great story that emphasizes how declining fish populations are a personal, pressing problem for many people across the globe. Reporter Martine Valo reveals how traditional communities in Senegal are competing with foreign fish-processing factories for dwindling fish catches. We’d like to share an excerpt of the Guardian story below, and you can read the full version on their website.
Senegal fears its fish may be off the menu for local consumption
Foreign fish processing factories are competing with traditional communities for a dwindling catch
On the beach at Joal, a major fishing centre south of Senegal‘s capital, Dakar, women watch as the pirogues (fishing canoes) unload their catch. The women are far from happy. The nets are almost empty, but they expect worse when a Russian factory opens in Senegal to convert fish into meal. It will be the last straw for their fish-drying and curing business.
The trade, traditionally plied by women, is essential to preserve the seafood, which is sold on to consumers inland. But today they will not be able to buy a single crate of fish. Some say there are times when they have no work for a whole month.
The situation has deteriorated significantly since Chinese, Korean and Russian factories started springing up along the coast, producing meal for fish farming and stock breeding in Europe and Asia. Over the past three years, 11 plants have been built near the beaches where local fishermen land their catch, between Kayar, north of the capital, and Joal, which accounts for about a third of the country’s coastline.
In Joal (population 40,000) the mood has been tense since the construction of the new Russian factory, Flash Africa, was announced. A plot of land has already been fenced off. Marianne Teneng Ndaye, who heads the trade federation representing women fish-processors at Joal-Fadiouth, has called for a day of protest. “The Koreans turned up five years ago but they only took ribbon fish, which didn’t bother us,” she says. “But now they are buying fresh sardinella, what are we going to eat? The Russian factory aims to produce 46 tonnes of meal a day. It will need 460 tonnes of fish to do that, but since 2010 the Joal fishing boats haven’t ever landed more than 200 tonnes a day. It’ll be the death of us.”