West African Communities Rally to Protest Monster Boats

11 September 2013

Just one week after Chilean fishermen and Greenpeace vigorously protested against the Margiris supertrawler, Mauritanian fishermen and fishing communities in West Africa are also raising their voices against monster boats in their own waters.

In a statement sent out in Nouakchott, Mauritania, local fishermen called on West African governments to no longer allow supertrawlers into their fisheries because of the profound impact they have on fishstocks – and local livelihoods as a result.

Take the Annelies Ilena for example. A few weeks ago this Monster Boat (formerly the Atlantic Dawn) was fishing in Mauritanian waters and in just one fishing expedition it caught froze almost 7,000 tonnes of pelagic fish. That’s seven million kilograms of fish: enough to feed 291 000 Senegalese people for a whole year.

super trawlers in west africa

In my career as Greenpeace oceans campaigner, I’ve had the opportunity to visit many fishing ports from Mauritania through to Ghana. Never have I seen a reaction from people like the one I get if the Annelies Ilena is mentioned. Fishermen are angry, they are frustrated by the vessel’s presences. But more than that, they are scared.

And I understand that.

The impact the Annelies Ilena has on ocean ecosystems is not limited to the area where the supertrawler is active. Fish species tend to be migratory, so depleting a population in one area has a huge impact across the whole region. It means that policies which allow Monster Boats to fish in Mauritania can actually destroy the catches of small-scale fishermen in neighbouring countries too: Monster Boats have a massive footprint.

In 2006, the same ship was kicked off Mauritanian authorities after the fishermen strongly protested against it.

This time, the one piece of good news in all this is that more and more people are speaking up about Monster boats, and some governments are listening. A global movement against these destroyers of the ocean is being born, lead by the people most affected by these supertrawlers. A movement whose sole message is: “Not Here, Not Anywhere!”