Battling the bottom feeders
The waters off Senegal and Mauritania, once teeming with sea life, are pale images of what they used to be.
Now, environmental campaign group Greenpeace sees a new threat. Falling domestic fish stocks are pushing Chinese fishing fleets to Africa: from 13 vessels in 1985 to 462 vessels in 2013.
That is a fifth of China’s total ‘distant water’ fishing fleet. Greenpeace also says that many of these companies, including the China national Fisheries Corporation, have a history of illegal fishing.
“If China wants to be a genuine friend of Africa, it should follow the path of the European Union’s (EU) Common Fisheries Policy, which is slowly rectifying the EU’s own history of irresponsible fishing in the region,” said Ahmed Diamé, Greenpeace Africa’s oceans campaigner.
From 2000 to 2006 and 2011 to 2013, there were over 180 documented illegal fishing cases in Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone that involved vessels owned by Chinese companies or flying the Chinese flag.
Many of these boats are destructive ‘bottom trawlers’ that scoop up all the life they can off the ocean floor.