Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, January 14, 2021

In an interesting case of geopolitical cause-and-effect, alleged overfishing by European commercial fleets off northwestern Africa is collapsing the local fisherman economy, and paradoxically is spurring fresh waves of illegal migrants toward the European Union.

In Mauritania, lobsters vanished years ago. The catch of octopus — now the most valuable species — is four-fifths of what it should be if it were not overexploited. A 2002 report by the European Commission found that the most marketable fish species off the coast of Senegal were close to collapse — essentially sliding toward extinction.

“The sea is being emptied,” said Moctar Ba, a consultant who once led scientific research programs for Mauritania and West Africa.

In a region where at least 200,000 people depend on the sea for their livelihoods, local investments in fishing industries are drying up with the fish stocks. In Guinea-Bissau, fishermen who were buying more boats less than a decade ago now complain they are in debt and looking to get out of the business.

“Before, my whole family could live on what we caught in one pirogue,” said Niadye Diouf, 28, whose Senegalese family sold their pirogue for $500 to pay for an illegal — and ultimately unsuccessful — voyage to Spain. “Now even five pirogues would not be enough.”

And more mouths to feed in the EU means more fish-trawling, for a vicious cycle. No chance of a European mass conversion to vegetarianism, I’d guess…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/14/2008 11:47:37 PM
Category: Political, Business, Society, Science
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