Aquaculture shouldn’t be developped at the expense of small pelagic species, claim African artisanal fishermen

CAOPA stresses before FAO the role of sustainable fishing of sardines as a guarantee for food security and urges to regulate the West African fisheries.

Recently, a report promotted by FAO brought out the growing importance of aquaculture as a tool to ensure access to food, a reflection widely spread by the media. Gaoussou Gueye, secretary general of the African Confederation of Artisanal Fishing Organizations, has also spoken about this issue in Rome, where he claimed that aquaculture shouldn’t be developped  by promotting “unsustainable” fishing of small pelagic species.

“Developping this sector with our wild fish stocks, in order to feed grown species, is not the solution. These shoals show signs of overfishing and already are central elements to ensure food security”, clarified Gueye, on July 12.

In his speech, entitled The strategic importance of small pelagic fish in West Africa, the secretary general remembered the importance of these species in the diet of the most disadvantaged groups of the African population, as well as an important element of local and regional trade in many countries. Therefore, this association has requested FAO to examine more fully the potential of these fisheries on the food security of African people.

This request becomes more important if possible when the shoals of these species “could be in danger”, said Gueye, as a result of the “growing number” of factory-ship operating in the area. “We can see them from far away: some have more than 120 meters. Their increasing activity adds additional pressure on our sardines”, finds the fisherman leader, an activity that causes “serious damage” in the ecosystem due to “not selective” methods that affect sharks, rays, turtles and other marine species.

Therefore, CAOPA, active collaborator of the International Year of Family Farming 2014, asks for clear limits on small pelagic species and transparent application of clear conditions of access to these resources. “The priority of access should fall on those who fish for direct human consumption” and not for those who fish in order to produce “fish meal to feed livestock or aquaculture fish”. The artisanal fishermen want the FAO to intercede with states and regional organizations to take into account the role of small pelagic species in the environment and in the way to achieve food security.

Audio Gaussou Gueye (Caopa)

Audio Irani Maia (Ropa)