Greenpeace has atributed the growing scarcity of fish in the West African subregion to the presence of fishmeal and fish oil industry in the region.
This disturbing findings, which are contained in a Greenpeace report entitled “A Waste Of Fish”, stated that the fishmeal factories pose a real threat to lives, and the livelihoods of millions of people in The Gambia, Mauritania and Senegal.
“In West Africa, the depletion of fish populations, particularly small pelagic fish, threatens the livelihoods and food security of coastal communities and countries,” the report said.
As one of the main drivers of decline of ocean wildlife populations, over fishing has for decades been seen as a leading cause. But the emergence of fishmeal industry is exponentially affecting the stocks, raising serious concerns about its impact on food security.
“The over-exploitation of small pelagic fish stocks, exacerbated by the development of fishmeal and fish oil production in West Africa, undermines international commitments and legal obligations related to sustainable development, fisheries management, food security and poverty alleviation,” the report added.
Mustapha Manneh, an environment consultant from Kartong, described the industry as a growing business, mainly owned by Chinese investors.
He made these remarks at a press conference held Wednesday at Baobab hotel in Bijilo.
A part from the bad smell that is making life practically impossible in Gunjur, Kartong and Sanyang, Manneh cited the toxic waste being discharged into the sea as none of these factories has a waste treatment plant that could help to control the odor.
Far more disturbing, Mustapha Manneh decried the fact that the existing fishmeal factories are not providing employment letter to their workers.
“They are working there without getting an employment letter,” he remarked. He then deplored the way Gambia gov’t is showing no interest to fix the problem.
He expressed disappointment about the stance taken by authorities to quell any attempt made by communities to protest against these business entities polluting their immediate environment.
“Fishmeal is not the solution,” he said.
Momodou Semega Janneh, a leading voice in Sanyang village, said it is unacceptable that people continue to be denied their rights to exercise their freedom to assembly.
“The smell is so bad that dogs are leaving houses,” he said. “I think it is criminal for officials to allow these factories to operate in the country.”
As the National Environment Agency (NEA) continues to crack down on ordinary citizens for littering, Janneh urged the agency to take a similar stance against the fishmeal factories polluting the environment.
In a news dispatch issued today and seen by this medium, Greenpeace Oceans Campaign Manager, Dr. Ibrahima Cissé was quoted as calling on “African government and companies to face their responsibilities in the much-needed protection of regional fish stocks.”