HomeEconomyLure of migration to Europe entangles Senegalese fishermen

Lure of migration to Europe entangles Senegalese fishermen


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Nowadays, when a Senegalese fisherman will get right into a canoe, it is in all probability the final time he’ll achieve this – both he’s leaving his life behind in a bid for a brand new one in Europe or failing within the try.

Small-scale fishing has lengthy been a mainstay of Senegal’s financial system and its communities alongside the Atlantic coast, however overfishing, industrial competitors and the impacts of local weather change are taking their toll.

“These young guys behind me, when we’re at sea, all they talk about is going to Europe,” stated Ibrahima Diouf, a solidly-built fisherman in his 40s, pointing to the six crew members getting his boat prepared in Thiaroye, outdoors the capital Dakar.

He pointed to a dozen different boats mendacity on the seashore, saying they’d been deserted by colleagues who left for Europe “because there are not enough fish, they can no longer make a living.”

In latest years, hundreds of Senegalese have embarked within the slim wood canoes, some reaching 20 meters (65 toes) lengthy and carrying dozens of passengers paying a number of a whole bunch of {dollars} every to traffickers.

It’s an enormous worth for a harmful journey of 1,500 kilometers (round 930 miles) and over every week towards the Canary Islands of Spain, their gateway to the European Union.

Nearly daily in cities and cities throughout Senegal, individuals hear a couple of profitable enterprise, a ship stopped by coast guard interceptions, or capsized ships.

But that has not deterred a rising variety of fishermen from becoming a member of the ranks of these hoping to depart, usually, the younger individuals fleeing poverty and unemployment.

“Today, you also have women and children and people with jobs. Fishermen are the new ones,” stated Boubacar Seye, president of the migrant nongovernment group (NGO) Horizons Without Borders.

Less to catch

“Almost everyone here has left,” stated Ababacar Diop, a married father of two in his 30s, who himself tried to make the crossing however was picked up and returned by Senegal’s navy in October.

“We’ve gotten used to coming back empty-handed” from fishing journeys, he stated, blaming the misplaced catches on “these trawlers behind me.”

At anchor are dozens of hulking fishing boats, some with Senegalese flags, many others with Chinese or different international flags.

Most are hauling in hake, sole, shrimp or octopus primarily to fulfill the calls for of European shoppers or to produce fishmeal or oil producers, the Environmental Justice Foundation stated in a latest report.

“A few years ago, we would set out at 6 a.m. and return around 5 or 6 p.m.,” Diop stated. “These days, we’re forced to return at 10 or 11 a.m.” as a result of there’s nothing to catch.

Fishing gives round 600,000 direct and oblique jobs for Senegal and three.2% of its gross home product (GDP), based on a 2022 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But for the tens of hundreds nonetheless attempting to catch sardines, mackerel or scad, “heading out to fish is a losing proposition,” stated Aliou Ba, head of ocean campaigns for Greenpeace Africa.

“This craft is dying,” he stated.

Losing hope

Senegal’s fishing exports almost quadrupled between 2008 and 2018, based on the Environmental Justice Foundation, though greater than half the shares of species in close by waters are going through “collapse.”

Meanwhile, catches by small-scale fishermen in canoes plunged by 58% from 2012 to 2019.

The diminished prospects assist clarify why Senegalese are actually alongside Moroccans as probably the most quite a few migrants to achieve the Canary Islands this yr, based on Spanish NGOs and the EU’s Frontex border company.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) couldn’t acquire general statistics on the migrant numbers nor the variety of Senegalese intercepted on the Canary Islands route.

But most AFP reporters spoke with on the islands in mid-October stated they have been fishermen from a household of fishers or from cities alongside Senegal’s coast.

Senegal’s navy stated in late October that it had intercepted 26 canoes carrying a complete of three,800 migrants in simply two weeks, Senegalese but additionally individuals from Gambia, Guinea or Mali.

An official on the Spanish Embassy in Senegal acknowledged that “the arrival of fishermen is a new factor” relating to the canoes touchdown on the southernmost Canary Island of El Hierro.

Dozens of Senegalese have drowned on the route that has seen 633 deaths general this yr, based on the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

For Ba at Greenpeace, extra fishermen are leaving for the easy purpose that they’ve the means to take action.

“If the fishermen decided they weren’t going to leave, nobody would be able to leave,” he stated.

But for these like Diop, whose first try was thwarted, an opportunity to depart for Europe is simply too tempting to refuse.

“If I had a little bit of hope in fishing, I would never have tried to reach Spain by canoe,” he stated.

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