Thursday, February 07, 2008

Commercial Overfishing Threatens Coastal Livilihoods

Socialist Banner previously drew attention to the exploitation of Africa's fishing stocks here and one again a new report of the problem has reached the mediaa.

According to 'The Crisis of Marine Plunder in Africa', a report published in November 2007 by the Institute of Security Studies (ISS), a South Africa-based think-tank, poaching and over-fishing off southern and eastern Africa has become so extreme that permanent damage to the marine environment appears imminent.
West Africa's fish stocks were exploited by European, Russian and Asian fishing fleets in the second half of the 20th century, but in recent years the industry set its sights on the shoals in the continent's southern and eastern waters.
The ISS report conservatively estimated that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Africa had become a US$1 billion a year industry. "In Mozambique, illegal fishing in the tuna and shrimp industry was set at approximately $38 million."

The UN Food and Agriculture Programme (FAO) has estimated that Mozambique's small-scale fishermen, who caught 84,065 tonnes of fish for the domestic market in 2000, will need to catch 171,040 tonnes to help meet local demand by 2025.
The pressure is mounting: Mozambique's shallow coastal waters have been over-fished, its population - 40 percent of whom live on less than one US dollar a day - is growing at 2.4 percent annually, and traditional fishing techniques can no longer compete in a globalised fishing world.
A lack of modern equipment and skills has left an estimated 90,000 small-scale fishermen, who provide directly for 50,000 families, unable to access deep-water species or make the best of diminishing coastal stocks. Only three percent of the 24,000 boats they used had engines that would allow them to fish in deeper waters.

Fishing provides a critical source of food and income to thousands of Mozambicans, but the ever-increasing local and international demand for fish, combined with rapidly depleting stocks, is putting increasing strain on this way of life.

"...I can't explain why they are gone, but each year we catch less and less. I do not know what we would do if the fish disappeared - it is how we feed our families. We are proud of our tradition, but we need help..." - Lucas Antonio Matibe, a shrimp catcher in the southern province of Inhambane, who has trawled the Mozambican coast for over 40 years.

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