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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).