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The major organisations of small-scale fishers in Senegal, men, women, of all professions along the artisanal value chains are up in arms in the face of further threats to their livelihoods and future. What happens? Fisheries landings are going down since the turn of the millennium, mostly as a result of overfishing by industrial fleets. Those flying the Senegalese flag are often in foreign ownership or joint ventures oriented to export. The Minister for Fisheries and the Maritime Economy apparently wants to grant 56 more licences to primarily Chinese industrial vessels or boats to be "Senegalised".

This is posing a direct threat to the hundreds of thousands of small-scale fishers, particularly the women in the pre- and post-harvest sectors who are already suffering from declining profitability as a result of the often illegitimate competition from highly subsidised industrial vessels. This is well documented through national and international research results.

The move of the Minister is all the more surprising as the Government has discontinued the issuance of licences for coastal bottom fishing by Order No. 5166 of August 08, 2006. It has extended the freeze on the registration of new artisanal pirogues by Order No. 6397 of August 29, 2012 with the explicit justification of reigning in excessive fishing effort and capacity. 

The professional organisations of the artisanal fishers in Senegal are asking for establishing transparency as required by the existing rules and regulations and urge to stop any further industrial licences irrespective of which flag the vessel is flying.

Mundus maris, in line with its long-term support to sustainable and prosperous small-scale fisheries in Senegal and elsewhere, expresses its solidarity with the demands of the professional organisations. It asks for measures to recover the resources degraded from overfishing aggravated by climate change. Implementing the FAO Guidelines for securing sustainable small-scale fisheries in combination with such recovery measures could be facilitated by the Small-Scale Fisheries Academy, a space for practising joint learning and seeking robust solutions in an atmosphere of mutual respect and free exchange.

Read the press release here.

Success at World Ocean Day 2020

As reported by several media outlets, the Minister for Fisheries and the Maritime Economy of Senegal, Alioune Ndoye, made the much awaited announcement on World Ocean Day, June 8, 2020, that the deal was off and that with two exceptions, no new licences were to be issued to either foreign vessels or those changing flag state to Senegal.

This is a hard-won success following wide-ranging protests within the country and internationally, including that of Mundus maris asbl. It follows on the heels of a statement by the President of the Republic, Macky Sall, inviting a check because of the potential flagrant breach of the country's law that had been denounced by the local organisations representing the most affected small-scale fishers and value chains.

As a similar scenario already played out eight years ago in 2012, the fact that additional industrial licences were at all considered for already overexploited resources represents an unfortunate repeat situation.

That should be discussed in the European Parliament and at the next session of the parties to the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Senegal signed end 2014 for a duration of five years with tacit renewal for another five years.

It was premised on account of excess resources accessible to European vessels in line with the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which prohibits overfishing.

It is time to ensure full transparency in such dealings and make sure the sustainability and prosperity of the small-scale fishing communities are on top of the agenda as stipulated by the Voluntary Guidelines for Ensuring Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the context of food security and poverty eradication (VGSSF) for which Senegal is an international champion.

That is much warranted because, contrary to industrial fleets driven often by financial interests and subsidies, small-scale fisheries are deeply embedded in local culture, place and community and contribute immensely to the local economy.

Mundus maris continues to support the struggles of local communities and their organisations and expresses its solidarity also to those communities in neighbouring countries who would suffer from attempts to seek similar licences there. Years of overexploitation, legal and illegal, have reduced the productivity of the resources significantly and affect the functioning of the marine ecosystems along the coast.

Pictures courtesy ZIDEOPROD (2018).