Pirates fishing in West Africa/ Pêcheurs pirates en Afrique de l’Ouest

L’Afrique de l’ouest est depuis longtemps victime de pirates des mers. Ces derniers sont attirés par les côtes poissonneuses de Guinée, de Sierra Leone ou du Libéria. Ces États sont incapables d’assurer une surveillance adéquate de leur facade maritime permettant à d’innombrables pêcheurs illégaux de piller les ressources halieutiques laissant les pêcheurs locaux devant des zones de pêche mortes.

En Guinée, c’est 100 millions de dollars US par année qui disparaissent dans les filets de navires de pêches illégaux provenant, la plupart du temps, d’Europe. (Les pertes pour la Sierra Leon et le Libéria sont estimées respectivement à 29 et 10 millions).

La Guinée possède la plus grande plateforme continentale de la région (56000 km2) mais dispose seulement de 5 bateaux patrouilleurs, dont quelques uns sont inopérants à cause du manque d’argent pour les entretenir… Les pirates s’en donc donnent à coeur joie.

Selon Greenpeace:

Il n’y a pas que les stocks de poissons qui souffrent de ce commerce illégal et non réglementé: l’environnement marin entier est en danger si les pirates persistent dans leurs méthodes de pêche. De larges filets raclent les fonds marins, détruisant au passage les milieux de reproduction et d’alimentation de la vie marine. Les prises indésirables piégées dans les filets, appelées ‘prises accessoires’, sont rejetées à la mer mortes ou mourantes. Elles pourraient pourtant nourrir de nombreuses communautés côtières.

Pour Greenpeace, c’est la demande mondiale, et notamment européenne, en poissons des mers chaudes qui est en constante croissance qui pousse à ce genre d’activité

Greenpeace a un bateau de surveillance, “l’Esperanza “, qui écume les mers d’Afrique et est témoin des agissements des pillards. L’organisation a ainsi remarqué (lien en anglais) qu’un groupe très organisé agit à partir de Las Palmas, aux îles Canaries (Espagne). Pour éviter la détection, ils s’y prennent à plusieurs bateaux faisant des transbordements en pleine mer. Ainsi, le bateau qui rentre au port européen n’est pas celui qui a causé le délit, bien qu’y étant associé. Il est donc difficile aux autorités européennes de retracer l’origine du poisson qui sera écoulé sur les marchés d’Europe.

C’est l’équivalent du tiers des exportations africaines de poisson qui est piraté ainsi.

Vous pouvez télécharger ici un document (format pdf – en anglais) qui donne les détails de ce pillage.

Pirate vessel in Guinea

West Africa has been the target of pirates for a long time. They are now attracted by the waters, full of fish, of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. These States are unable to adequately survey their coasts allowing numerous illegal fishboats to plunder the halieutic resources and leave the local fishermen in front of empty waters.

In Guinea, 110 millions dollars are lost every year in the nets of the pirates which usually come from Europe (the losses for Sierra Leone and Liberia are respectively 29 and 10 millions).

According to the Environmental Justice Foundation, in the case of Guinea:

fisheries monitoring and enforcement authorities lack the resources to properly defend Guinea’s 320 km coastline from IUU fishing. Despite possessing the largest continental shelf area of Atlantic Africa (56,000 km2), Guinea relies on just five inshore patrol boats to protect its waters and several of these are inactive due to a severe lack of funds.

  • Note: IUU stands for “Illegal, unreported and unregulated”.

For Greenpeace:

One of the main driving forces behind pirate fishing is a growing and often indiscriminate demand for seafood in the EU and other major markets . Consumers and retailers expect an increasing variety of fish and shellfish all year round and at a reasonable price, in spite of the fact that marine resources are in sharp decline worldwide.

also:

The whole marine environment is at risk from the way the fishing pirates operate. Nets scour the bottom of the ocean, laying waste to everything in their path, wiping out feeding and breeding grounds. Unwanted catch, snared in the same nets, is thrown overboard dead or dying as by-catch, despite still being suitable food for coastal communities.

Greepeace has a boat called the “Esperanza”, that patrols the african waters and is a witness of the drama. The organization noticed that a group of organized pirates have a base in Las Palmas, in the Canary Islands (Spain):Las Palmas, a pirate fishboats hub

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a major Port of Convenience, providing services to IUU fleets operating off the coast of West Africa, and hosting a number of companies that operate IUU vessels. It also serves as a gateway through which illegally caught fish can enter onto the huge EU market: from Las Palmas it can be transported anywhere within the EU with virtually no further inspection as to its origin.

And the pirates know all the tricks to avoid getting cought:

Changes in vessel name and flag are common and some vessels even have dual identities – using one name or flag while fishing in West Africa and a different one when using port facilities and landing catches. For many vessels spotted in the region, there is no information available whatsoever in the public domain.

Another activity that appears to be on the rise is the transshipment of catches to another vessel whilst at sea, rather than directly offloading in ports. This serves to conceal any connection between the fish and the vessel by the time the fish arrives on the market, meaning the true origin of the catch is unknown. Transshipping and re-supplying at sea also allow pirate vessels to stay at sea and continue to catch fish rather than transit to port when their holds are full, where they could be confronted with port inspections or control of their activities.

About the equivalent of a third of Africa’s fishing export is gone through this illegal activity.

You can download a document here (pdf); it gives more details on illegal fishing in West Africa.

Advertisements

One thought on “Pirates fishing in West Africa/ Pêcheurs pirates en Afrique de l’Ouest

Comments are closed.