African Fishmeal Factories Under Fire
Due to concerns over the pollution they generate and the impact they have on local forage fish stocks and the fishermen who traditionally rely on them, in the last few weeks, fisheries representatives and environmental activists in Mauritania, Senegal and Gambia have been complaining about the effects of foreign-owned fishmeal factories.
Despite the fact that West Africa has been hit hard by illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, a number of nations are promoting the exploitation of their remaining fish stocks to produce fishmeal for export to fish and other livestock farmers, mainly in Asia – a trend that is facing an increasing backlash.
In June, Gambia’s Parliamentary Select Committee on the Environment ordered the closure of the Nessim Fish Meal Factory, located close to the beach at Sanyang, after it was confirmed that it was operating without a waste treatment plant and discharging waste products directly into the sea. Prior to this, in June last year, the company paid a $25,000 bond in an out-of-court settlement, after the Gambia National Environmental Agency had taken it to court for bad waste management practices. And last month, demonstrations and media wars took place between Golden Lead, a Chinese-run fish feed factory with plants located in Gunjur and Kartong, and local residents backed by environmental activists.
For many Gambians, fishmeal factories are threatening their economic survival, because the discharge of waste, the foul stench and the emission of smoke are already affecting the tourist industry. Tourism is the main employer and foreign exchange source for Gambia, with most European visitors attracted by the white, sandy beaches and beach-front hotels.
Meanwhile, in the town of Nouadhibou in next-door Mauritania, where there are 32 fishmeal plants, many of the 120,000 population are incensed by similar discharges. Equally, in Senegal, there is increasing concern among local populations about the operations of 12 foreign-owned fishmeal plants.
Source: The Fishsite