Par Abdourahmane Diallo
In the township of Thiaroye-Sur-Mer on the outskirts of Dakar, the sound of drums disturbs the Sunday calm at the fishing pier.
As a good conductor, drummer Malick Niass dictates the tempo, while women dance to the Lebou local community’s rhythms called “Goumbe” and “Ndawrabine”.
Coming from various areas of the country, fisheries product processors are ecstatic.
Some, carried away by the euphoria of the moment, invite themselves to the dance.
The atmosphere is at its height, but only for a short time.
Indeed, what gathers them has nothing to rejoice about.
It is about the distress in the fisheries sector.
Fish which provides a source of livelihood for many families, is increasingly rare.
In the dock, trawlers and fishmeal factories are blamed for the scarcity.
The former are said to be over-exploiting resources and the latter are said to be driving young fish to extinction.
“Desperate Senegalese sell their fishing boats. They no longer earn anything because fishing vessels sweep up everything,” the president of the network of women fishmongers and fish product processors of Senegal, Thiaba Diop Niang said expressing strong views about the situation.
She described as “scandalous” the fact that Senegal, whose waters were once rich in fish stocks, is now forced to import to meet national demand.
“The state must stop granting licenses to foreign boats and prohibit illegal artisanal fishing” Thiaba Diop Niang suggested.
Ms. Niang argued that the biological rest of fish species must be respected to give them time to reproduce.
In this sense, the president of the network of women fishmongers and fish processors invited the government to finalize a draft decree regulating the sector.
This decree, she said, should also allow women’s associations to be formalized in order to benefit from essential funding for the development of their activities.
Dr. Aliou Ba, head of the “Oceans” campaign of the NGO Greenpeace Africa, said that “more than half a million tons of fish are caught each year in West African waters and then processed into fishmeal and fish oil for the sole purpose of feeding farmed fish, livestock and domestic animals in Asia and Europe.”
If this practice continues unabated, Mr. Ba warned, “we risk becoming food insecure because populations will be deprived of 75 percent of their protein intake from fish.
To avoid this, Dr. Ba urged Senegal to suspend licenses for new fishmeal factories and to close all those that use fresh fish fit for human consumption.