WEST AFRICA: Fishing communities and civil society groups across West Africa will unite today (8 June, World Oceans Day) in a show of strength against the fishmeal and fish oil (FMFO) industry and the politicians that have enabled it.
As food prices soar thanks to corporate profiteering from the war in Ukraine, and with recent figures from the Global Network Against Food Crises showing that several million people on West Africa’s coast were already nearing ‘crisis’ levels of food insecurity,  the coalition is drawing attention to fish that should feed West Africans and provide employment in the region instead of being caught by industrial trawlers and fed to farmed fish, animals and pets in wealthier countries.
In Senegal, fishermen, and women fish processors will meet at dozens of fishing beaches along the country’s coast in order to protest against the government’s refusal to protect the country’s fish stocks and the communities that depend on them. One maritime protest, at Joal, will feature a flotilla of fishing pirogues carrying two large banners. In The Gambia, a caravan of local environmental groups will travel between the locations of factories that take fish and process it into FMFO. And in Mauritania, NGO Zakia will be carrying out awareness-raising events highlighting ecological damage by FMFO factories, which further threatens the region’s fish stocks.
“For people living on the coasts of these three different countries to act with such unity – that’s something really new, and it’s exciting“, said Mrs. Fatou A Jeng, a campaigner from the Gambia Environmental Alliance. “It shows how angry we are – and how organized we have become.
These feelings were shared by coastal communities in Mauritania, home to many of the factories that process the catch from the region’s fish stocks. “The authorities here have allowed a huge number of fishmeal and fish oil factories to be built along our coast,” said Mansour Brahim Boyda from Mauritanian NGO Zakia. “We’re saying to big businesses like EWOS/Cargill, Mowi, Skretting, BioMar: don’t touch our fish. And we’re saying to the government: please close the factories.”
Dr. Aliou Ba, Greenpeace Africa’s Senior Oceans Campaigner, highlighted the long-term structural problems that are causing food insecurity. “The government in Senegal can’t only blame the recent increases in food prices on the war on Ukraine when they are still letting big business take edible fish and sell it abroad as fish food. To prevent a human catastrophe, this theft has to end now.  And to replenish marine life and make sure everyone benefits from the ocean, we need a UN Global Ocean Treaty. This could help to protect at least 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 with a network of ocean sanctuaries.”
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