Africa's fisheries' paradise at a crossroads

Fisheries are an important sector in many West African countries especially in terms of livelihood and food security. Yet, the lack of efficient fisheries management systems and weak governance by West African governments have allowed distant water fishing companies to plunder marine resources at a low cost and with quasi impunity. In just under 30 years, Chinese companies have expanded their fishing operations in Africa from 13 vessels in 1985 to 462 vessels in 2013. Since 1985, Chinese bottom trawlers rapidly expanded. Fish were sold to European, African and Asian market. However, these Chinese fishing companies had quite a shady history. Over 15 years, 183 cases of illegal, unregulated and undocumented cases have been documented. These companies have been lying about their size of vessels, fishing without licenses, operating in forbidden areas and using illegal nets. Even while West Africa was fighting Ebola, Greenpeace witnessed Chinese fishing companies committing infractions every two days and urged these cases to be investigated immediately. And for future of sustainable ocean, a stricter fisheries regulatory framework based on principles and objectives of sustainability must be enforced.