PERREAULT Magazine AUG | SEP - Page 52

Securing a better future for the oceans and for people

Mamadou Sarr is a 54-year old Senegalese artisanal fisherman who has been working at sea for over 36 years. He entered the profession out of his love for fishing and the ocean, and has been supporting a family of eight with his daily catches.

Greenpeace met him at Ouakam, a fishing village on the outskirts of Dakar, where he shared his story with our local activists. "If nothing is done to reverse the negative impacts of foreign vessels in Senegalese waters, I will lose my job", he said.

Foreign vessels have been plundering the waters of West Africa for decades to stock the fish markets of Europe and Asia. Industrial fishing is depriving West African people of a vital source of protein and pushing thousands of locals into poverty and despair.

To understand the scale of the problem, the Greenpeace ship 'Artic Sunrise' sailed the waters off Senegal and Mauritania, in 2010, and documented 126 large fishing vessels and four refrigerated ships used for transporting the catches. It is a continuing problem: last month, Greenpeace exposed Chinese fishing companies which are emptying the seas of fish off Senegal, Guinea and Guinea Bissau.

The question was how to draw attention to the plunder of West African fisheries. Greenpeace Africa, through our office in Dakar, Senegal, built up close relationships with coastal communities and fish workers in the country.

Their stories have proved to be as powerful and inspiring as they have been educational – from their testimonies of the massive change in state of the ocean over the years to their current struggles to support their families. These are stories that deserve to be broadcast far and wide so that what has been out of sight for many people no longer remains out of mind.

Just weeks before 2012's presidential elections in Senegal Greenpeace organised the "My Voice, My Future" caravan which toured through the country's main cities and villages to speak with local fishermen and women about sustainable fishing.

Eager to make their voices heard, fishermen and women from all over the country responded to our call, some travelling miles by canoe. Over 6,000 people signed a petition calling on the presidential candidates to support sustainable fisheries.

When the newly elected President Macky Sall revoked the licenses of 29 large foreign trawlers, which together were taking almost half of the country's catch of pelagic fish, thousands of people took to the streets in celebration. As Greenpeace Africa exposed in a report, the licences had been granted in dubious circumstances by the previous fisheries minister.

by Kumi Naidoo,

Executive Director of

Greenpeace International

Perreault Magazine - 52 -