Gambia is endeavoring to restore a fishing agreement with the European Union made dormant by the former regime of ex-President Yahya Jammeh.
The new government of Adama Barrow has made fishing a priority and turning to private security firms to curb illegal fishing in its waters.
The requirements in the agreement between the European Union and The Gambia have not been met, leaving it lethargic. It was part of Jammeh’s plans to retaliate against the EU.
Relations between the West and Jammeh deteriorated over his human rights abuses. Not meeting parts of the agreement mean that EU member states were not able to authorize their vessels to fish in Gambian waters.
The decision increased illegal fishing and now the Barrow administration wants to have EU vessels in Gambia, employing the country’s citizens and paying its fair share of royalties to the government, which has been losing millions.
Both international and regional vessels are guilty of contravening existing regulations and spend more than 32 hours fishing illegally in Gambian waters.
Illegal fishing is a major problem with far-reaching environmental and socioeconomic consequences for Gambia, one of Africa’s poorest nations.
The practice threatens the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Gambians, who rely on fish for food and to make a living, and cheats the government of millions of dollars in revenue.
The EU imports more than $974 million of fish products each year from West Africa. It is subject to a fishing quota and should pay compensation to the Gambia’s government.
It should also help the country to crack down on illegal fishing. European trailers were found with shark fins on board and small nets, which are banned because they help bring in bigger hauls and deplete the fish population.
West Africa has some of the richest waters in the world, but stocks are being depleted as industrial trawlers, some operating illegally, comb the oceans from the seabed to the surface.