About three years ago Celtic League highlighted the growing problem of industrial fishing and the exploitation of third world countries resources and their people. We were lucky to be able to cooperate with Ian Urbina award winning journalist at the New York Times who ran a series of articles at that time entitled ‘The Outlaw Ocean’.
The League highlighted abuses of both resources and people especially migrant fishermen employed on industrial trawlers and pressed the International Maritime Organisation and International Labour Organization on the matter.
One specific area we highlighted was the penetration of fleets from China into waters of the Atlantic off West Africa and in the area around the Canaries. Chinese fleets are based in Mauritania and indeed the operation is so huge they now they additionally have ship repair facilities at Vigo on the Iberian Peninsula.
This BBC report highlights the plight of local fishermen on Sierra Leone and the damage that is being done to stocks of what is a basic food for local people and a source of income. Ironically the Fishery Protection vessel n the item is I think the old Manx patrol vessel ‘Enbarr’ which was gifted to that country:
A combination of the power of the Fishery Lobby which includes fleets from the Russian Federation and the EU together with corruption amongst local officials in many of the West African States augurs ill for these resources.
The Chinese vessels the BBC item highlights are comparatively small and obsolete compared to some of the super trawlers which ply these waters.
One thing is clear the damage being wrought on the marine ecosystem may be irreversible.
(You can find a plethora of articles on this on our main Celtic league site just type ‘super trawler’, ‘outlaw ocean’, ‘fishery’ etc into the search box
Image: Fish market Gambia – this is a vital resource of income and food security these people cannot afford to lose.