Comprendre les enjeux de l'agriculture

According to local fishermen, fishery resources are dangerously declining along the African coasts, jeopardizing the future of artisanal fishermen. Moustapha Diouf, a Senegalese fisherman, states that since 2005, the date of the agreements signed with Europe, large-capacity boats have been operating in Senegalese waters. These waters consist of two oceanic spaces, one shallow and the other called the deep oceanic domain. In these ecosystems live fish with slow or fast reproduction rates. According to Haïdar El Ali, an environmental activist, this specificity must be taken into account in fisheries resource management policies. According to this activist, species are threatened with extinction if the Senegalese state does not reserve areas for reproduction. It is a challenge for Senegalese waters, which also host foreign fishing vessels less concerned than local fishermen about sustainable resource management.

The decline in oceanic populations is such that a country like Senegal has become a net importer, supplied by other African countries, such as Morocco. It is not uncommon for traditional fishermen to return without catches even though their fishing meets the economic and nutritional needs of their families. Oceanic resilience exists, but it involves an alternation between extraction and renewal.

Ismaïla Ndiaye, regional fisheries inspector in Dakar, confirms the decrease in landed volumes over the past three years. He considers that the management of fish populations is the responsibility of all fishermen, small and large. According to him, the state has already halved industrial fleets. At the same time, 20,000 artisanal canoes roam the ocean without activity perimeter and without quotas.

In any case, the latest scientific reports confirm the overexploitation of resources, whether pelagic or demersal fish. To address this threat, scientists make several recommendations, including:
– Reduce catches by 60%;
– Reserve catches for human consumption rather than animal consumption (feeds).

According to Dr. Aliou Ba, head of Greenpeace Africa’s ocean campaign, all stakeholders in fishing bear the responsibility for sustainable fishing, but it is up to the states to organize the sector to meet both economic expectations and sustainable development objectives, particularly Sustainable Development Goal 14, which deals with the sustainable conservation of marine resources.

Senegal, like other African states, is caught between its obligations and the financial rewards offered by agreements signed with foreign vessels. These funds enable states to subsidize artisanal fishing (such as purchasing engines).

“Sénégalization” of Fleets

To circumvent the fishing quota regulations applicable to foreign fleets and their tax implications, shipowners, mainly Asian or European, partner with local fishermen or industrialists to flag their fleet under the Senegalese flag and fish more freely. Senegal has planned an audit to assess the state of the fishing fleet with an exhaustive list of vessels, regardless of their flag.

“Sénégalization” thus consists of the foreign shipowner partnering with the operator to receive approvals as a Senegalese vessel. This partner must be Senegalese and hold a majority of shares.

Once the operating license is issued, the fishing vessel benefits from the advantages reserved for local fishermen, including tonnage tax exemption. Some denounce such practices; according to them, the Senegalese fisherman associated serves as a figurehead, in return, he receives a portion of the amount corresponding to the exemption.

Paths for Sustainable Fisheries Policy

The disappearance of fish worries local fishermen. After the disappearance of the resource, they will be without income and without a food source while foreign vessels can sail to other still prolific waters.

As Moustapha Diouf recalls, it is also a social issue. If livelihoods disappear, youth will only see their future on the other side of the Atlantic, at the risk of their lives. According to the fisherman, reproductive periods must be established, and efforts to combat the use of fish consumable by humans in animal feed manufacturing must be strengthened.

Mauritania recently issued an order in this regard. The country has also reserved 25% of its territory: industrial or artisanal fisheries are prohibited there, except those practiced by indigenous peoples. When fisheries policy favors local fishermen, they face less pressure and are more inclined to respect reproductive periods.

Senegal confirms that it has stopped issuing licenses for the conversion of fish into animal feeds, even if no official decree has been issued to this effect. The processing plants that remain in operation still use consumable fish, not waste, to produce their meals.

The country has also created marine protected areas (MPAs), which constitute an ideal ecosystem for species reproduction, provided that control measures are implemented: species observation, protection against intrusions, etc. The Bamboung Marine Protected Area, funded by the French Development Agency (AFD) and managed by Dakar’s Oceanium, aims to raise awareness among fishermen about the sustainable management of their resources.

MPAs are a cornerstone of the Agreement adopted by about 70 states, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea concerning the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Also known as the Treaty on the High Seas, it provides a privileged framework for developing convergent national policies and preventing African waters from being depleted solely for the benefit of developed countries.

The Global Fishing Market

Estimated at $710 billion, this market is expected to reach $771 billion by 2029.

The demand for fish remains high, first because this food has a good nutritional image and then because it is available in all the world’s oceans. This accessibility is reinforced by the development of aquaculture, which benefits from strong investments.

A few trends. Tuna and salmon remain the most consumed fish. Iceland is the largest consumer of seafood with 91 kg per capita per year, and the Asia-Pacific region holds the largest market share in value, nearly 70%.

The African market is growing steadily, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.65% for the period 2023-2029.

Fishing activities are still impacted by energy inflation, quotas, and extreme weather events, leading to an increasing trend towards aquaculture production. This phenomenon is particularly true for shrimp farming. In this sector, aquaculture dominates, both for supplies to on-trade (bars, restaurants) and off-trade (supermarkets, stores) channels.

The main companies are Austevoll Seafood ASA, Maruha Nichiro Corporation, Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd, Sysco Corporation, and Thai Union Group PCL, but they only account for 2.79% of the market.


Source: Deezer Podcast “The African Debate Episode Senegal: How to Remedy the Ravages of Overfishing,” Mordor Intelligence