Villagers in the southwestern Gambian settlement of Gunjur have dragged a Chinese fishing company, Golden Lead to court after series of appeals for authorities to intervene proved to be futile.
The company stands accused of environmental and sea pollution at the High Court amid concerns that the contamination with overfishing by Chinese vessels in Gambian waters is driving dozens of fish species into extinction.
Golden Lead was first dragged to the magistrates’ court by the country’s National Environment Agency for violating regulations and reached an out of court settlement with authorities.
The company agreed to remove the pipe, restore damages done to the ecology, and support and finance an assessment, according to Amie Bojang Sisohore, Director of Press at the State House.
Conservationist argued that Golden Lead is threatening food security in the West African nation and exposing the people to cancer and other health implications.
A nearby creek has been reportedly poisoned and marine lives threatened along the Bolong Fenyo, which is also a bird census ground.
The company had put up underground pipes that were disposing of chemical waste and fish products into the sea and the Bolong Fenyo creek. It left the beaches littered with dead fish and other marine animals.
The pipes to the Atlantic Ocean were reportedly removed but new pipes to the Bolong Fenyo were photographed by activists, who demanded they be removed.
Representatives of the group, Gunjur Development Fund that has filed the civil suit against Golden Lead demanded their MP and House Majority Leader, Kebba K. Barrow to address their environmental and health concerns.
According to activists, in a part of the world where poverty reduction remains a challenge, preserving the rich diversity of marine fish species will help safeguard the livelihoods of local communities in Gunjur.