The pandemic can be a welcome break for a more sustainable future

Many marine activities have been disrupted and are only very gradually restarting as a result of the pandemic. We would hope that they start on a sound basis with greater determination to stamp out Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, bribery and other illicit activities in the sector and increase transparency in how licences are being allocated for legitimate fishing. This seems not quite to be the case as we learn from Sud Quotidien, Dakar, 13 May, that China and Turkey are circumventing any fishing agreement triggering fear of resource pillaging. Apparently the deal goes like this: the Chinese come with a contract called fisheries cooperation. They propose to a Senegalese citizen to set up a joint venture with a value of half a million FCFA (around 760 EUR). The resulting company operates under Senegalese law. The local party owns 51%, the Chinese 49% and the joint venture is then charged to purchase a boat which costs five billion FCFA (7,622,450 EUR). Without this “Senegalisation” the formerly Chinese vessel can not fish in Senegal because the two countries have no fishing agreement. This is one of the scenarios pondered. Apparently others, similarly dubious, are still also being considered, including an agreement with Guinea to shift the pressure elsewhere…

Mundus maris expresses its continued solidarity with the women and men and their organisations in the artisanal sector who ask for transparency and an immediate stop to issuing such licences irrespective of the vessel’s flag. There is simply already massive overfishing and all extra-efforts will be at the expense of the local small-scale fleet and its value chain.

Today – June 8 – is World Ocean Day and a good time to rethink how to put into practice what governments have promised on behalf of all of us when they adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, including stopping overfishing and implementing the Guidelines for Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries. Innovation for a sustainable ocean is the UN motto for this year, clearly looking for different kinds of innovation than prevailing so far in the Senegal case.

For those not participating in events, we offer a quiz with some background information: Test you knowledge and respond! You can find the quiz, in four languages, on our website:

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The space of the Small-Scale Fisheries Academy could be used to practise joint learning and seeking robust solutions together in an atmosphere of mutual respect and open exchange. Blue solidarity is the watchword for all our activities for World Ocean Day and beyond.


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