A Chinese-owned fish processing company, Golden Lead Factory has paid $25,000 dollars (D1 million dalasis) as bail bond for allegedly polluting the environment.
Golden Lead was dragged to court by the country’s National Environment Agency for violating environmental regulations, withholding information, polluting the sea and failure to keep records.
Erosion uncovered underground pipes from the factory used by the company to dispose waste into the Atlantic in Gunjur, a fishing settlement in Gambia’s Kombo South District.
Golden Lead has denied the allegations and blamed local fishermen of using illegal fishing gears to catch juvenile fish and having them washed ashore.
The pollution is killing marine life in Gunjur’s Bolong Fenyo reserve. Activists protested the illegal dumping of dead fish and fish products in Gunjur and Kartong and held talks with authorities.
Gambia’s neighbor, Senegal detained seven Chinese trawling vessels for illegally fishing in its waters. West Africa has some the richest fish stocks in the world, but they are being rapidly depleted by industrial trawlers, some operating illegally.
A study in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science estimates West Africa’s annual losses from illegal and unregulated fishing at $2.3 billion.
At least 74 fishing vessels owned and operated by four Chinese companies have been exposed for fishing illegally in prohibited fishing grounds in West Africa and falsifying their gross tonnage, according to findings from a two-year investigation by Greenpeace East Asia and Greenpeace Africa.
China’s distant water fleet is now the largest in the world, with about 3,400 vessels fishing in the waters of nearly 100 countries. It is estimated that nearly 75% of all the fish it caught came from African waters with almost 3 metric tons from West Africa.