Steal a man’s fish, he’ll be hungry tomorrow

Seventy per cent of the protein eaten by the people of Senegal comes from fish. Traditionally cheaper than other animal products, it sustains a population that ranks close to the bottom of the human development index.

One in six of the working population is employed in the fishing industry; about two-thirds of these workers are women. Over the past three decades, their means of subsistence has started to collapse as other nations have plundered Senegal's stocks.

The EU has two big fish problems. One is that, partly as a result of its failure to manage them properly, its own fisheries can no longer meet European demand. The other is that its governments won't confront their fishing lobbies and decommission all the surplus boats.

The EU has tried to solve both problems by sending its fishermen to West Africa. Between 1994 and 2005, the weight of fish taken from the country's waters fell from 95,000 tonnes to 45,000 tonnes. Muscled out by European trawlers, the indigenous fishery is crumpling: the number of boats run by local people has fallen by 48% since 1997.

In a recent report on this pillage, ActionAid shows that fishing families that once ate three times a day are now eating only once or twice.

[Excerpt of an article by George Monbiot, The Guardian]

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