June 13, 2021

West Africa deprived of food by global demand for fish oil and meal

Producers of fishmeal and fish oil intended for European and Asian industries deprive the populations of West Africa of a significant portion of their food and contribute to the plundering of fishery resources, denounces Greenpeace in a report published on Tuesday 31st. may.

Some 500,000 tonnes of fish that could end up on the plates of 33 million people are transformed each year into fishmeal and fish oil for sectors such as aquaculture, agriculture, dietary supplements, cosmetics and livestock. , estimates the NGO for the defense of the environment.

Read also Greenpeace accuses Chinese vessels of illegal fishing off Senegal

The production of fishmeal and fish oil in this region of the continent increased from 13,000 tonnes in 2010 to 170,000 tonnes in 2019, according to Greenpeace, which has been sounding the alarm for several years. “This practice not only compromises the food security of coastal communities in Mauritania, Senegal and The Gambia”, but also deprives “The continental ones of Mali and Burkina Faso one of their main sources of protein”, underlines the report.

Greenpeace notes that according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the main species used for the production of fish meal and oil, sardinella and ethmalose (estuarine sardines or bonga ), are “Overexploited”. This represents “A serious threat to food security in the sub-region”, warns Greenpeace.

“Environmental damage”

The European Union (EU) is the main market for these products. “In 2019, more than 70% of the fish oil produced in Mauritania was destined for the EU”, while much of Senegal’s production goes to Spain, according to this report. China, where demand for fishmeal has exploded due to increased needs in aquaculture, is also among the main recipients, along with other Asian countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia.

Read also “It’s a terrible shock”: in Mauritania, the fishing sector caught in the mesh of the coronavirus

This industrial production also has repercussions “Severe and negative in environmental, socio-economic and human health terms”, according to the NGO. In Mauritania, “Many complaints about chronic diseases and asthma-related problems have been recorded, along with environmental damage in areas close to factories”, says the report. The most affected populations “Are the women, who traditionally make smoked, salted and dried fish that they sell on the local market, and the artisanal fishermen”.

Greenpeace calls on West African countries to stop the production of fish oil and meal and to prioritize human consumption of fish products.

The World with AFP