A new report on the Sanyang region of coastal Gambia calls on the government in Banjul to take all necessary steps against illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing in order to protect local communities.
The Amnesty International report on the human cost of overfishing is based on firsthand observations of the industry, and interviews and research conducted in 2021 and 2022 to evaluate Sanyang, home to a large fishmeal and fish oil (FMFO) factory. The delegation interviewed 63 people, including Nessim Fishing and Fish Processing workers, members of civil society organizations and government officials, as well as area residents.
The fish plant, which opened in 2018, is foreign-owned but processes the same sardinella and bonga fish species on which coastal communities rely. A 2020 United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) report warned that the fish were overexploited. Marine biodiversity is under threat as well, and the plant has been fined multiple times for environmental violations, Amnesty said.
“The large quantity of fish exported each year through the activities of foreign industrial boats and fishmeal factories is rapidly depleting available fish stocks for local communities,” said Amnesty.
The researchers found Gambia, Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Guinea and Sierra Leone together are losing US$2.3 billion annually to illegal fishing.
“The Gambian government and international community actors operating in the affected areas must ensure that foreign vessels and FMFO factories respect both national and international fishing regulations. It is crucial that local communities remain able to catch fish using sustainable methods,” Amnesty said.
Image: Jason Florio/Amnesty International