Illegal fishing is one of the serious challenges facing African countries especially The Gambia. On numerous occasions foreign trawlers are intercepted by our security agents for their dubious activities against the rules and regulations governing good fishing practice.
A country like The Gambia where a number of coastal dwellers are engaged in the fisheries sector, it is a serious matter to learn that illegitimate business operations are being carried out on the high seas by large foreign fishing vessels and some local fishermen. But it is disappointing that sometimes authorities won’t act even after some these malpractices are reported.
A case in point is the recent seizure of some West African nationals at the Tanji Fish landing site, one of the country’s biggest fish landing sites on suspicion of illegal fishing.
The offenders were apprehended with a huge quantity of juvenile fishes at the time of their arrests.
According to Illegal, Unreported Unregulated (IUU) Fishing reports, the global losses due to IUU fishing alone are estimated to be as high as US$23.5billion per year – with West African waters deemed to have the highest levels of IUU fishing in the world, representing up to 37 percent of the region’s catch.
IUU fishing is found in all types and dimensions of fisheries, it occurs both on the high seas and in areas within national jurisdiction. It concerns all aspects and stages of the capture and utilisation of fish, and it may sometimes be associated with organized crime.
This clearly signals a clear message that the illegal fishing activities are putting the poor fisherman in a disadvantaged position and costing the economy dearly; hence, steps must be taken by government to stop this practice so the fishing industry can stand on its feet.
It also undermines national and regional efforts to conserve and manage fish stocks and, as a consequence, inhibits progress towards achieving the goals of long-term sustainability and responsibility.
Strict action plan against illegal fishing is necessary, but the government must make sure there will be sufficient resources to carry out a strong campaign against poaching. As events in recent years have shown, this requires a multifaceted approach to stem the surge of illegal fishing in our waters.
Now let’s what measures will authorities take after an illegal fishing has been reported at Tanji. What is clear is that some of the offenders have admitted to have committed wrong, but will authorities help the nation?