by Aliou Sall


The fish goes where people can pay for it. Well-to-do people in Dakar enjoy the freshly landed fish in urban markets in the old city centre. The Kermel Market is a historical market (first opening in 1860) where fish, fruit and vegetables are the major fresh products for sale. Restored to its former glory in 1997, the market attracts many local and international customers. The fish sellers received a visit of Mundus marisin September 2012 to help them make good purchasing decisions for their customers and for themselves: the idea was to check whether the fish on sale was of adult size. Avoiding the sale of baby fish helps sustain the business on the long run. The measurements were made with the help of the fish ruler developed during the FAO-EAF Nansen pilot activities for teaching the ecosystem approach to fisheries. Protecting baby fish and taking only grown individuals, which have reproduced themselves, will make the entire value chain more sustainable, from the customers to the fishers.

For two years, Mundus maris pursued a project in collaboration with a few pilot communities of fishermen in Senegal. The objectives and the results achieved through this project can be appreciated as a result of activities undertaken within the Mare Nostrum project. The actions towards the fisherfolk thus did not just begin today with projects and other ongoing activities in the following communities: Kayar, Hann, Yoff and Guet Ndar in St. Louis.

The awareness campaign to promote the observance of minimum sizes for fish during the month of September 2012 has its own specificity: the effort is directed towards a category of wholesalers and particularly those in a very specific space: the fishmongers working in urban markets right in the capital Dakar.

What are the challenges represented by addressing this category of people in this specific area and what is the interest in intervening at this level? Which strategy is adopted? What are the results achieved and what are the future prospects with leaders of trade associations met at the scene?


The principal reasons for Mundus maris to chose conducting an awareness programme on good practice to guarantee the sustainability of the fishery specific to these actors are the following: First, a market like Kermel in Dakar, because of its distance from the fish landing places, does not automatically create the opportunity for the wholesalers to be exposed to the different ongoing programmes related to the resource crisis.

As a result and given the way they work normally, they are not familiar with the concept and practice of sustainable development: They just pass the minimum time required for the purchase of products from the fishing ports and spend most of the day marketing the products. This is why Mundus marishas expanded its training and awareness towards these actors working at the city centre.

Second, given the importance of involving consumers in awareness campaigns in favour of good practices for sustainable development, the Kermel Market is the place of choice of the rich and middle classes of the Senegalese capital (Senegalese and all nationalities living in the capital). The pretty good state of food safety and hygiene, thanks to good maintainenace compared to other markets for ordinary people, in fact makes Kermel the meeting point of a class of educated consumers, including the Diplomatic Corps in Senegal. This category of consumers is in principle receptive to messages about practices that will promote sustainable development, compared to other types of ordinary consumers, often animated by a certain fatalism about the increasing degradation of resources.


To reach these fishmongers, the local coordination of Mundus maris paid a visit to the market after meeting Mr Kellé Seck, leader of one of the groups of fishmongers exercising their professional at the Kermel Market, in another occasion not related to fisheries. During this initial contact, we made a presentation of Mundus maris, but also of the tools that could be of direct interest to the wholesalers: the fish ruler, the poster with soda cans for fish measurements and the poster about the Senegambian ecosystem, which had been initially developed in the context of pilot activities of the EAF Nansen Project of FAO for the introduction of the ecosystem approach to fisheries.

Following this initial meeting, the fishmongers invited us to come back and explain the poster, help them to interpret it correctly, but also to make fish measurement tests with them. We have spent a good four hours at a time on the market for the day of demonstration and information.

Regarding the results and perspectives, we can say that the experiment was successful and very encouraging. The most striking is the fact that the measurements have shown that many fish species are consumed below the minimum sizes indicated on the fish ruler. As a result, the fishmongers expressed one single question: how to get the fish ruler. But they also enjoyed the measurement with the soda cans.

For proof, one group has volunteered to play its full role as opinion leaders in the market. It is driven by Kellé Seck. In addition, in order to reach the consumers, before leaving we have left some posters to stick to the walls.

In the future, the group of wholesalers would like us to organize with them a full day of awareness, as soon as we are ready. This should be done in collaboration with relevant departments: Fisheries Department, the Municipality of Dakar, and others.

Engagement with fishmongers in other markets from December 2012 to February 2013: Results, constraints and opportunities identified

After working with wholesalers in the Kermel market in September 2012 and due to the interest expressed by wholesalers in other localities, the local Mundus maris team in Senegal has extended its campaign for respect of the minimum size of fish. Beyond the wholesalers themselves, some fisheries administration officials - especially those in charge of ensuring size compliance - also expressed great interest and have worked with this campaign. The different partners involved are:

At the Central Fish Market in Dakar

The Central Fish Market was built a few years ago as part of the Senegal-Japanese cooperation. Some 500 to 600 wholesalers are present on a daily basis. More than 80% of these are women-fish mongers who, having sold their produce, return home daily. It is a marketing hub with fishery products coming from all the landing places of Senegal, and even including those from neighbouring countries, such as Gambia, Mauritania and Guinea. The wholesalers supplying the market are men.

For the campaign itself, we relied on three different actors as potential partners and profile each other.


It is first of all the checkpoint team, a service representing the fisheries department. This team is responsible for statistics, the control of origin and safety, but also to ensure strict compliance with size limits, although we note on the basis of our own observations that this is not respected. The team leader, Mr. Issakha, and colleagues assessed the fish ruler. They found it revolutionary as the only ruler that the team had at its disposal is made of paper and can hardly be used in the wet conditions of a market like this. The team only regrets the fact that the water-resistant ruler is expensive and that it would take a large amount of money to introduce it considering the number of wholesalers operating daily in the market.

Then we worked with one of the associations of wholesalers headquartered in the market: the National Collective of Wholesalers in Senegal. Collaboration between Mundus maris and the association of wholesalers is facilitated by Babacar M'baye, co-founding and member of the national office. Mr. M'baye, better known under the name M'baye Rokh, is the first to have worked with Mundus maris in Senegal as part of our pilot activities with fishmongers (see website). He greeted us at the Central Market in the name of the group of wholesalers.


The president of the association, Mr. Babacar Ndiaye, granted us an interview after which we went for a dip in the market. Two important remarks made by the women on site need to be highlighted, namely

(i) the ruler is easy to understand and can be used, because the key for them is to recognize the species, but

(ii) for effectiveness and impact, they propose some additional actions to be included in the agenda of wholesalers' organisations active up-stream in the Central Market and at other locations along the Senegalese coast.

The big wholesalers responsible for the supply of domestic markets in the country in turn wish to deploy other means, e.g. to help them publicise the regulations on the allowable size of marketed species during their movements. In the opinion of the big wholesalers, beyond these supports, it will important to consider other activities, including meetings between wholesalers and the fisheries administration at the most important landing centers. According to them, the ruler raises the question of law enforcement. The simple demonstration of this tool alone may not achieve the expected results.


At some sales points of fish in the city of Dakar


In the last few years we have witnessed a proliferation of sales outlets of fish in the city of Dakar and the suburbs, usually at major intersections of bigger roads, where households who can not go to traditional markets, can get supplies. The success experienced by these outlets is mainly due to the fact that they help save time in a growing city where mobility is increasingly becoming problematic.

So we expanded our awareness activities to some sales outlets of fish, such as exchange market at the bridge towards Hann, the Soumbédioune market and the bridge of the Patte d’oie. At these outlets, the success experienced by the fish ruler is related to its easy understanding by the micro fish vendors, especially since all species sold on site are illustrated on the ruler.

However, there is the recurring question of how to provide each woman or small groups of women with enough rulers. According to the women interviewed, namely the more numerous ones in Soumbédioune, the simple fact of not having a measuring instrument - especially for those who do not want to make any effort - could be an excuse to ignore the regulations on the size of the species.

Fish landing places in Mbour and Joal

Our work in Mbour was facilitated by Mr. Mame Ousmane Gueye, member of the National Office of UNAGIEMS (National Union of Economic Interest Groups of Wholesalers) and also Chairman of the Inter-GIE (Legally established groupings of fishermen, fishmongers and fish processors in Mbour). The two fish rulers we put at the disposal of Inter-GIE allow for demonstrations with wholesalers and micro-fishmongers.

These tests started in December 2012 making their way and hopefully we shall meet the wholesalers responsible in the near future for an appreciation. The same exercise is underway at Joal, in collaboration with the responsible wholesalers operating at the loading dock and with the collaboration of Messrs Mbaye Fall et Amadou Samb, members of the local association of wholesalers.