By: Kebba Ansu Manneh
Officials of Greenpeace Africa, a fisheries advocacy group, have observed that the development of Fishmeal and Fish Oil Factories (FMFO) in Senegal, Mauritania, and The Gambia remains a threat to the population of small pelagic fish species.
They say the situation is triggered by the fishing sector’s lack of regulation and monitoring, leading to the exploitation of the species.
They made these observations, among others, at a workshop on the legislation governing fisheries and Fishmeal and Fish Oil Factories for Gambian community leaders drawn from Gungur Conservation and Eco-Toueism Association (CETAG), National Solefish Co-Management Committee (NASCOM) and Platform of Nin-State Actors in Fisheries and Aquaculture in The Gambia (PONSAFAG) at a local hotel in Banjul.
According to them, the exploitation of small pelagic fish in the oceans of the coastal countries of West Africa has always been an activity that provides jobs and foreign currency and contributes to the food security of the populations of these countries, observing that this significant role played by this sector is on the dwindling due mainly to the advent of Fishmeal and Fish Oil Factories in the region.
They observed that the rush to catch small pelagic fish for supply to Fishmeal and Fish Oil Factories is also responsible for the decline of the species in Senegal, Mauritania, and The Gambia, noting that the rush to supply FMFO factories with small pelagics has also compelled fishermen to build large purse seines and encircling gill nets to fish for these species.
“These fishmeal production units compete heavily with women processors and threaten the sustainability of small-scale fishing by contributing to overfishing and the exploitation of juvenile fish, not to mention their harmful effects on the environment and people’s health. In addition, small-scale fishing professionals in both Senegal, Mauritania, and The Gambia do not have a common body to defend their interests, hence the importance of assisting them in creating a platform for professionals in the small-scale sub-sector so that their concerns are taken into by the authorities,” said Abdoulaye Ndiaye of Greenpeace Africa.
He added: “It is in this context that Greenpeace Africa intends to strengthen the coalitions fighting against FMFO in Senegal, Mauritania, and The Gambia by providing training sessions on the relevant legislation governing the FMFO (Environmental Code, Fishing Code).”
According to him, the training of Gambian Small-scale processors and actors is meant to raise their awareness on the legislations governing the sector as well as knowledge sharing on how best to mitigate the impact of Fishmeal and Fish Oil Factories in The Gambia, adding that Gambian players will also learn about the destructions and threats FMFO has done to the Artisanal fisheries sectors of Senegal and Mauritania.
Philippe Ahodekon, also an official of Greenpeace Africa, outlined that fishmeal and fish oil Factories continue to pose threats to food security in WA, adding that while fish stocks are mainly for human consumption in the sub-region, FMFO factories are operated to feed pigs, cats and other animals in China and other parts of the world.
He disclosed that the training will equip small-scale fish processors to know the requirements of the laws that allow the operations of the FMFO factories, adding that it will also help them to understand how to use these legislations to fight against the spread of FMFO factories in the sub-region with the view to curtailing the exploitation of small pelagic fish species, ensuring food security and income for the small-scale farmers.
“So far, I’ve learned so many new things about the legislation governing the fisheries sector but, most importantly, about the dangers posed by the fishmeal and Fish Oil Factories. Secondly, the training accorded me great experience on a host of issues happening at our beaches that collectively we can address for the benefit of the future generations,” Mariama Janneh, a participant from CETAG, said of the training.