What has happened to West Africa’s once-plentiful fish stocks? As it turns out, many of the global fleet of ships that have descended on Sierra Leone’s waters are breaking the law. Below, we take a look at the shocking effects of overfishing in West Africa.
Today, we’re featuring a BBC report that discusses the state of the globe’s fish stocks – in particular, those in West Africa. While these should be some of the most plentiful waters on the planet, Chinese trawlers are having a devastating effect.
Overfishing In West Africa: Illegal Trawlers
In Sierra Leone, entire communities are dependent on the catch of local fishermen. But foreign trawlers are interfering by rejecting rules and regulations. Foreign trawlers, were they to conduct themselves with integrity, could be good news for the local economy. But what happens when they don’t follow the rules?
Just south of Oxford, England, advanced technology is being used to monitor the globe’s oceans. Oceanmind analysts are able to track trawlers all over the world via satellite transmission. Our featured BBC video explains how Sierra Leone waters specifically are being unfairly targeted by monster trawlers.
Though these trawlers arrive from all corners of the globe, 3/4 of them originated in China. Which begs the question – are Chinese trawlers decimating West Africa’s fish stocks?
In a popular practice called pair trawling, two boats fish side-by side with a gigantic net set between them. In this way, the boats cooperate in scraping the sea bare. Though this particular method is technically illegal in Sierra Leone, it persists.
Astonishingly, Sierra Leone has a single patrol vessel – hardly the resource needed to regulate and enforce rules among massive trawlers from all over the globe. Often, foreign trawlers receive tips in regard to the patrol’s whereabouts. In this way, they evade consequence again and again. As such, pair trawlers are rarely held accountable for their illegal acts.
Because illegal trawlers must be caught in the act, arrests are incredibly rare. All the while, Sierra Leone’s fish stocks are plummeting to dangerous numbers. Even though fish from their waters stock markets all over the world, Sierra Leone sees less than 10% of the money from those sales. If things continue as they are, the local fishermen and economy will suffer more devastating blows.
Overfishing In West Africa: The Future
But the local government is beginning to take action against overfishing in West Africa. Even though it’s difficult to ban trawlers for pair activity, licenses can be revoked for poor sanitation. And many suspected pair-trawlers fail to meet the required sanitation standards.
What’s more, action has been taken to ban all industrial fishing during certain months. Watch the BBC video above to see what led Sierra Leone to take such drastic, but necessary, measures against foreign super trawlers guilty of overfishing in West Africa.