Thursday, July 03, 2008

Fishing Again

Ivory Coast is calling on the United Nations to lift an arms embargo that it says has prevented the defence of its waters from illegal fishing boats.Under the embargo, the government says it cannot buy the spare parts needed to repair two navy boats that used to patrol the country's waters.

Fishing unions say catches have declined by three-quarters to 40,000 crates a year since the start of the conflict because of illegal fishing.

"It's a vital sector," says Jeanson Djobo, the government's director of fish production."Fish is a staple food, so if the fishing sector dies, it'll create lots of problems for Ivorians."

African ministers are meeting in Namibia to discuss how to stop illegal and unregulated fishing.The meeting in the capital, Windhoek, aims to encourage governments in Africa and beyond to register fishing vessels and their activities.Illegal and unregulated fishing is estimated to cost Africa $1bn (£500m) a year in lost revenue.

The ecological cost may, in the long run, be much higher.

"The immediate ecological impact is damage to habitat, because they are using trawls, and trawls are not always good for the ecosystems - they damage habitat for fish," says Dr Diallo ,programme manager for the environmental group WWF's West Africa office, and a former fisheries officer."The second thing is pollution, because they are discharging at sea, and they can do anything they want."

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