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Colonized waters of West Africa

As the nations of La-Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Bissau, Gambia, and Senegal are mired in proxy internal conflicts, much of them fueled by their former colonial masters, their rivers and shorelines become a haven for illegal fishing trawlers from Europe (Portugal, Spain, France, UK, Greece), China, Japan, and South Korea.

5.25.2012 source: Al-Jazeera

Inland fresh water and ocean intruded salt water fish provide a valuable source of revenue for local artisanal fishermen and nutrient-rich fish for the populations of these nations. Generally in the multi-ethnic nations of West Africa, trades and industry follow along ethnic and tribal lines. The riverbanks, islands, and archipelagos are dotted with villages of these professional tribes whose sole occupation and livelihood revolves around harvesting fish and other seafood. As these waters become depleted of their fish and other aquaculture, more and more turn to farming on land risking poorer and poorer harvests inured by seasonal droughts and over-used and inadequately or poorly fertilized soils. Despair, induced by unemployment and hunger, leads to base notions of internecine conflicts. An ominous vortex that can threaten the very social fabric of even the more sober of these nations. The UN then busies itself with food aid, humanitarian aid, and all manner of listlessness. The political life of the weak democracies is joined in eternal vortex, softened up for justified but undue meddling and colonization by the more ambitious predator nations.

The predators brazenly violate the international waters and rivers of West Africa in much the same way as they do Somali waters. In Somalia, the last resort of the fishermen tribes is and remains piracy on the high seas because instead of assisting the locals with protective navies that can effectively ward off seafood thieves and bandits, the criminals charge piracy to allow them the requisite impunity to further destitute the fishing communities. More and more, the fishing communities of West Africa are having to rely on themselves to protect their livelihood on the waters inland and offshore. This, as the local economies of Portugal, England, Spain, Italy, and Greece contract into hallmark recessions.

Drug-running and pirate fishing provide feasible means to plunder former colonies in cycles of despair and decrepitude for relief in the colonial enterprises. Under the guise of foreign investment for development, some of these enterprises have negotiated fishing licenses in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Benin, and Senegal where a facsimile of structured government exists and in the failed-states of Gambia and Bissau, front companies and criminal enterprises set up shop while fleets of their boats ravage the rivers and shores. The looted fish is carted further offshore to waiting refrigerated vessels from Europe, Korea, Japan, China, and Latin America where they are offloaded for onward shipment overseas. Increasingly, the markets of Asia and Europe are awash with a confounding variety of West African fish from grouper, snapper, sardines, shrimp, salmon, squid, mullet, to lobster. Some of these companies do engage in properly and legally-negotiated fishing licenses, but the local authorities do not have the means or capacity to regulate the allotments of these licenses. The result is that state revenue from these legal fishing licenses become inadequate to compensate local artisanal fishing villages much less to improve the local industry. In addition to the loss in billions of dollars in fisheries revenue, when the governments are handicapped by internecine conflict and comprehensive decrepitude, any effort to monitor or administer fishing licenses falls by the wayside.

There is an ominous risk of profuse piracy and conflicts on the high seas in West Africa and we encourage more democratic nations and the FAO to help empower local fishing villages on the archipelagos and islands in the Peninsula of Guinea, Bissau, and Sierra Leone to avert the impending dangers. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Greater employment which can earn more livable wages for these and neighboring communities can be provided by more robust coast guards, navies, and riverkeeper mechanisms that will both ward off illegal pirate fishing vessels and protect the local artisanal fishing industry. Outboard motors wont cut it. This will have the attendant effect of reducing internecine tensions and cyclical rushes to humanitarian and food aid.

The GDP Team.

Further reading: http://af.reuters.com/article/guineaBissauNews/idAFL5E8E9AOZ20120315?pageNumber=3&virtualBrandChannel=0&sp=true
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