Women fight back: West Africa sold out for farm animals in Europe

In West Africa, an expanding fishmeal and fish oil industry is wrecking the marine environment and snatching tonnes of fresh fish from the tables of local communities.

Food security and livelihoods of around 40 million people could be at stake.1

Fishmeal produced in West Africa is fed to cats, dogs, pigs, poultry and farmed fish in Europe and Asia while local communities in West Africa endure the devastating impacts of industrial fishing activities.

But local communities are fighting back.

Women in West Africa are fighting at the forefront for basic human rights to feed and keep their families healthy.

Most fishmeal and fish oil factories in West Africa are owned by foreign companies.

Unfair competition for fresh fish between this rapacious industry and local communities means female fish processors are losing jobs, and their ability to provide for their families.

While these brave women are struggling to earn a decent living, the fishmeal industries are ravaging the oceans with the blessing of the authorities.

Stand with West African Women

The expansion of fishmeal and fish oil factories contradicts several UN Sustainable Development Goals on sustainable development, national regulations, poverty alleviation, food security, and gender equality.

Women fish processors are providing jobs and access to cheap animal protein for the poorest population in the whole West African region including non-coastal countries like Mali and Burkina Faso.

Now the unfair competition for fresh fish between West African communities and the fishmeal and fish oil industry, means millions of people can be affected by poverty and malnutrition.

Awaiting the social and economic fallout of COVID-19, we need to ensure that governments put the livelihoods and food security of the people before the profits of foreign industrial fishing companies.

We have to stand with women and their communities and call for an end to the fishmeal and fish oil industry in West Africa.

Let the woman speak: Industrial fishing is gutting West Africa

“Before the fishmeal factory, we were doing very well. Now we no longer have access to fish. We are working hard, but we don’t do very well. We cannot handle being in such a tough competition with fishmeal factories.” ‒ Maimouna Sabaly, fish processor in Joal, Senegal.2

“Instead of thinking of supporting us and ensuring we are food secure during this health crisis, the government is considering granting new fishing licenses to foreign vessels that collect everything in their path. It is for this reason that I am afraid.” ‒ Fatou Samba, president of female fish processors from Khelcom processing site in Bargny.3

“For a long time, a large number of vessels have been granted fishing licenses to fish in our waters. Their activities continue to put pressure on our fish processing work. The fish we used to see abundantly in the past, has disappeared.” ‒ Jaba Diop,Coordinator of the National Coalition of Female Fish Processors of Senegal against fishmeal.3

Together, we can defeat the fishmeal and fish oil industry

For 15 years, Greenpeace Africa has been campaigning with unions and other NGOs to put an end to the decades of overexploitation of West African fish stocks and inadequate policies.

Last year, Greenpeace Africa launched a campaign to stop environmentally, economically and socially unsustainable fishmeal and fish oil factory expansion in Senegal, the Gambia and Mauritania.

Things are changing.

Through the support of passionate people like you Greenpeace Africa has prompted African governments to review the licenses they sell to foreign companies and to look closer at vessel tonnage to prevent fraudulent catch reporting.

It is due time for the authorities to take responsibility and listen to the plea of the population of the coast to stop the expansion of the fishmeal and fish oil plants.

How you can help

Take a stand for West Africa’s rapidly depleting waters with the women fighting against industrial fishing.

Our oceans need you to join the urgent call for a shutdown of fishmeal and fish oil factories threatening the livelihood and food security of up to 40 million African people.1

No lesson seems to have been learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, the race for profit, resumes.

That’s why we must take matters into our own hands.

We cannot afford to wait around for authorities to wake up. The time is now to make a difference.

You can help West African women taking action against the fishmeal and fish oil industry with this 2-minute survey.

*ItAllCounts is commissioned by Greenpeace Africa to conduct market research about their supporters. For every participant, ItAllCounts will rebate R5 to Greenpeace Africa.

1 www.greenpeace.org/africa/en/act/fish4families/
2 www.greenpeace.org/africa/en/press/9090/global-call-on-international-womens-day-stop-fishmeal-and-fish-oil-factories/
3 www.greenpeace.org/africa/en/blogs/11120/we-dont-need-more-fishing-licences-we-need-help-to-fight-covid19/