African Countries Call For China To Stop Illegal Fishing

African Countries Call For China To Stop Illegal Fishing

From VOANews. Story by Jasmine Nelson.

Officials from 24 African countries met in Cameroon last month and called for China to stop illegal fishing off the West African coast.

In some areas, Chinese fishermen have pushed their local counterparts back to shore, depriving them of their jobs and livelihoods.

Former fisherman Bisso Frederick, 32, now sells sandwiches in the Cameroonian town of Limbe, on the West African coast. He says he and his colleagues were forced to abandon their jobs three years ago.

Bisso says they have lost their jobs to Chinese fishermen who have taken over all fishing areas. He says they are very worried the government of Cameroon has allowed foreigners to do jobs Cameroonians should have been doing.

In a 2013 study, the international environmental group Greenpeace reported that the number of Chinese fishing boats operating in African waters soared from 13 in 1985 to 462 in 2013.

The report said there were 114 cases of illegal fishing over an eight-year period in the waters off Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone. It said the boats were operating without licenses or in prohibited areas.

Amadi Diop, who is in charge of the program for aquaculture and fishing at the New Economic Partnership for African Development, says such illegal activity is making African fish farmers poorer and destroying the environment.

He says Africa’s $24 billion annual revenue from fishing is threatened by people who are taking far more fish from African waters than can be replaced. He says the people who are suffering most are small-scale, low-technology and low-capital fish farmers.

The head of the regional commission for fishing in the Gulf of Guinea, Emile Essema, says the problem is getting worse because many African countries are not investing in their fishing sectors.

African heads of state are being encouraged by the African Union to dedicate resources to boost fish farming and aquaculture.

Read more at AtlantaBlackStar.