A fleet of over 15 mega trawlers (2000 tonnes and more) is now fishing in Senegalese and Guinee waters. All these vessels are located in a small area of only 100 km2.

Just sitting on the coach I was playing with a new app I found in iStore. I did not expect it to work very good. Just for a test to see how it works, I zoomed in the map of the Gambia and Senegal and zoomed into the direction of Guinee Bissau.

I just learned that all the orange dots on the screen were fishing ships. But I was shocked about the amount of fishing ships in such small area.

Not much later, I found out that I could actually read the details of a lot these vessels by clicking on the icons of the ships. I know, I am like a grandpa sometimes. But I could easy find out who was fishing and where.

But is soon appeared that these boats were not normal Senegalese fishermen. This is an army of foreign mega trawlers.

A lot of these vessels are over a 100 meters long which means they are true floating fish factories.

I kept on clicking on funny sounding names and I found out that almost every single one of them is a true monster trawler. The pressure on fish stocks must be insane here. There is no ecosystem that can handle this.

So who is fishing here now?

Flipper 5, Flipper 7, Sei Whale, CYYU2, Hispasen IIV, Mikhail Verbitskiy, Fin Whale, Soraya 1 (266m) to name a few. They are all here.

These are registered European ships, so it is possible to find the information in about these vessels in a database by using the app.

You will be shocked when realizing the actual size of these ships. Most of them are tipping the 90- 100 meters in length.

Groups of Chinese fishing vessels

But this is not it. Besides these European monsters there is whole army of Chinese vessels to be found. It is remarkable that these vessels are all sticking together somehow.

We know that they do this on purpose in other countries to be less vulnerable for Coast guard and inspections. We can not confirm if this is the case here, but it is very likely.

Trying to indentify the Chinese fishing vessels by using the app is impossible because they are simply not registered. In most cases these vessels are nothing more then floating barrels in a very bad state.

FINWHALE This is Fin Whale, a 94 m mega trawler from Russia. This fishing vessel is fishing most north in the map above. (Photo Benjamin Marfil)

In an area of 100 km2 now 17 foreign mega trawlers are basically weeping all life from the ocean. Leaving nothing but destruction for the local people.

Icons on a map don’t really show how enormous these vessels are. Lets give the icons a face. We present you the army of mega trawlers that is now plundering west Africa’s waters.

Another picture form Finwhale
Mikhail Verbitskiy Further down the Finwhale we find the Mikhail Verbitskiy, another huge 3000 tonne factory vessel flagged by Georgia
Mikhail Verbitskiy under its former name Pilot Whale
Sei Whale a little further down on the map we find this huge 4000 tonnes Russian factory ship
Sei Whale fishing at sea
Another picture from the Russian mega trawler Sei Whale on shore. This picture will give you any idea how much fish can be stored in these ships.

Flipper 7 is a 2000 tonne mega trawler
Flipper 7
mega trawlers west africa
Flipper 5

These are the vessels that we can indentify with images. Remember that in this same 100 km2 where all these vessels already are fishing, 12 other mega trawlers are also fishing. Unfortunately we could not find any information about these ships.

Imagine the amount of fish that is taken away from local people every day. That must be beyond anyone’s imagination. In this small area around 20 mega vessels are operating that can store thousands of tonnes of fish.

There was one ship the draw my attention because I recognized the name from a previous article we posted when the vessel was arrested and detained in the Gambia.

It seems to be a vessel that has a relation with the Golden Lead Factory in Gunjur. A factory that is notorious for poisoning the entire wildlife reserve in Bolong Fenyo and bribing village elders of the village Gunjur.

Anyway, this is just to give you any idea of how much pressure west African fish stocks have to face. There is no way for these fish to reach a proper size and reproduce. Even baby fish is caught away to be processed to fishmeal in the Chinese owned fishmeal factories along the coastline.

Total collapse of west African fisheries

It is expected that fisheries will collapse totally the coming years. The damage is already beyond anyones imagination. The worlds poorest people are now paying record prizes to eat their own fish. In countries like Ghana they now have to buy their fish from Chinese fishing trawlers.

Sea Shepherd is currently the only organization patrolling the African coast in search of illegal fishing vessels. The movie above gives you a perfect idea how they are doing that.

If governments don’t act now, they are simply responsible for bringing Africa’s food security in danger.

The Gambia’s minister of fisheries for instance recently made an agreement with the EU in which the country is selling its Tuna for 136 euro per tonne. They are practically giving away their fish to the EU.

How can our governments safe this dying ecosystem?

Everybody can see that this is not sustainable and that we need to protect this area to prevent a famine or civil war.

Gambia, Senegal and Guinee Bissau need to invest in a decent coastguard and work together properly to check every single boat in it’s waters. This should be the governments top priority to protect it’s waters and stop all forms of illegal fishing.

Another thing that we need is a large marine reserve in this region in order to make it possible for for fish to reproduce. Commercial trawlers should be banned completely or reduced with at least 80%.

Sharks, turtles and other large marine life have been killed on a massive scale as bycatch by these trawlers.

Once extinct, they are gone for ever and we are not far from that point. Gambia already lost its sharks, leatherback turtle , giants sawfish and now guitarfish is in serious decline. The once most common Bonga fish (Sardinella) has now become unaffordable for local people.

If you live in West Africa and you are reading this, please get up and stand up. There is no time, this has to stop. You have more power then you think, unite.

By Kev Black
Green World Warriors