How to fight illegal fishing in West Africa

Can fishers, coastguards and marine activists see off the thieves from powerful nations plundering the seas of West Africa? Aïda Grovestins reports.
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  • 2019

A multi billion dollar business

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates IUU fishing accounts for up to 26 million tonnes of fish a year, valued at between $10 and $23 billion – more than 15 per cent of the world’s fish capture. Market-distorting EU and Chinese subsidies lead to illegal overfishing. Half of the fishing resources in West African waters have already been overfished, according to the FAO. Rashid Sumaila, professor of ocean and fisheries economics at the University of British Columbia, says: ‘A big chunk of the subsidies given are capacity-enhancing, such as fuel and new vessel construction subsidies. These will stimulate more fishing of fish stocks that, in many cases, are already overfished.’