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Massive crackdown on illegal fishing looms across Africa

Wrote by: Daud Abdi Daud

Africa is home to some of the largest lakes in the world, both in size and volume. These lakes play a significant role in the political, social, economic and environmental life of many of the continent's people and their importance is set to increase. Africa is also a vast continent of incredible diversity, physical beauty and rich natural resources though extreme poverty and life-threatening diseases are very real threats currently.

In fact, over the last five years as much as un-estimated arena Africa has experienced a dramatic environmental shift with widespread corruption and a continuing lack of resources for enforcement mean and massive crackdown on illegal fishing by foreign fishermen. Read the below atrocity by country.


There are researches emerging of unregulated and probably illegal tuna fishing in Libyan waters during last year's conflict. Signals recorded from boats' electronic "black boxes" show a large presence inside Libyan waters, a major spawning ground for the endangered bluefin tuna.


On the year 2010, Illegal fishing items worth Rwf16 million were set ablaze in Shangi Sector, Nyamasheke district. The items are said to be threatening the survival of fish in Lake Kivu. Residents requested the authorities to also follow up on fishermen who target areas where fish lay their eggs. "Such people end up catching very young fish and also destroying fish eggs before they are hatched," said one resident.


In Angolan waters alone illegal fishing in only the sardine and mackerel industries amounted to roughly $49 million annually, more than a fifth of the total value of Angolan fish exports.


Mozambique is also suffering the illegal fishermen over its territorial water. On late last year was discovered a large quantity of sea cucumbers being dried in the back yard. They also discovered a quantity of shark fins, seahorses and sea turtles. Sea turtles are a protected species and are illegal to catch. Hunting turtles, and the trade in ornaments made from turtle shell have been illegal in Mozambique since 1973, and Mozambique is a party to the conventions protecting turtles. Mozambique loses nearly $38 million for illegal fishing in the tuna and shrimp industry.



Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea

Sierra Leone and Liberia are setting up ways to help small-time fishermen monitor and report the illegal foreign commercial fishing that costs each country tens of millions of dollars each year. Guinea alone loses some $100 million per year in catches.

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast, which is trying to recover from a 2011 civil war, is being deprived of some 55,116 tons of fish by illegal fishing every year, The country is in talks with a French aerospace firm, Thales SA, about using satellite technology to monitor its territorial waters, and the government of Ivory Coast is also seeking more high-speed patrol boats to intercept suspect vessels.


The international community has failed to grapple with the real underlying political and economic issues facing the troubled East African nation of Somalia, which has been surviving without an effective government for over two decades, according to a new study. With the country's 3,300-km coastline virtually unprotected, industrial fishing vessels from Europe and Asia have entered the area in large numbers and are plundering Somalia's rich maritime resources.

"Having over-fished their home waters, these sophisticated factory ships are seeking catch in one of the world's richest remaining fishing zones," says the report published by the New York-based Global Policy Forum (GPF).

On 2010 a report on pirates by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore said the value of illegal catches from Somalia's maritime jurisdiction is estimated at between $90 million and $300 million a year, and that foreign fishing vessels hail from all around the world.

The report's author, Clive Schofield, a research fellow with the Australian Centre for Ocean Resources and Security at the University of Wollongong, called it ironic that nations contributing warships to anti-piracy efforts are in some cases directly linked to the foreign fishing vessels "stealing Somalia's offshore resources."

"This situation has led some pirates to justify their actions on basis of illegal foreign fishing activities — styling themselves 'coastguards' and characterizing ransom demands as 'fines,'" the report said. "Without condoning acts of violence at sea, it is clear that the Somalis who hijack shipping off their coast are in fact not the only 'pirates' operating in these waters," it said.


On 24 February, 2012 a Greenpeace activists caught Russian-flagged vessel fishing illegally in Senegalese waters, painting the hull of the trawler with the word "Pillage" (the French word for plunder). Hiding ship names and call signs under large banners or nets is a common practice of vessels trying to avoid identification whilst fishing illegally.

"Not only are these trawlers emptying our waters, but they also show a tremendous lack of respect for our fishing laws," said Raoul Monsembula, Greenpeace oceans campaigner.

The capacity of these super trawlers is simply massive. Often that they are over 100 meters long and pull behind them trawling nets that are up to 700 meters long and 50 meters wide. They can catch up to 250 tons of fish a day - a catch that is literally emptying the sea, making it very difficult for local fishermen to make a living. Recent studies show that overfishing in Senegalese waters threatens the sustainability of several fish species like Sardinella and horse mackerel.


Malawi is losing $28 million (about MK4.6 billion) worth of fisheries resources each year due to unsustainable fishing in natural bodies, an estimate which represents 0.8 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the Ministry of Finance and Development's Economic valuation of Sustainable Natural Resource Use report in Malawi on January, 2012.

The Republic of Congo

The Republic of Congo has banned 69 Chinese fishing boats from its waters for illicit activities on January 18, 2012. The banned boats, which belong to three Chinese companies named as Lulu, Rong Chang and Huayi Jinri, were fishing in a prohibited zone up to six nautical miles offshore, which is set aside for reproduction and renewal of fish stocks.


On January 17, 2012 the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries issued that the crackdown on illegal fishing in all Uganda's fresh waters is likely to yield results as the country registers a slight recovery in catching mature fish.

Data from the ministry show that the country is losing close to $140 million from the fisheries industry due to illegal fishing and tax evasion. Currently the country is earning only $80 million (shs) from the $220 million it was earning before strengthening the policy to totally ban young fish on the market.


Nigeria loses $60m yearly to illegal fishing. In reverse, the nation is importing over $200 million worth of seafood products annually to supplement local production. There are very big vessels, mostly from Asian countries, coming into Nigeria waters to poach on its natural resources and they fish in the most irresponsible manner and these are people who don't have any license to fish in Nigeria waters.

No thanks to the presence of illegal industrial fishing boats that are raking in large quantities of fish for export, Experts say illegal fishing costs African countries over $1 billion yearly. Illegal fishing and poor management of marine stocks cost the world $100 billion every year.

However, there is dramatic increase in incidents of illegal but unreported and unregulated fishing in African waters which absolutely could boost piracy on the rise over African continent and will renew again full thank given from African people at large as the MALINDI, people of Kenya did one thing to thank Somali pirates for Better fishing on January, 2010 if the United Nations delay to monitor over the issue and initiate a fact finding team as soon over African territorial waters.

Finally, I have to say “How can African Leaders move along with the illegal fishing industry across African territorial waters?  Hopefully, this question will remain no-answer by certain reasons actually.

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