Greenpeace activists have intercepted a 96-metre tanker in the Channel carrying fish oil from west Africa to Europe, to highlight the threat they say industry poses to food security and to livelihoods in the region.
Trade figures analysed by Greenpeace Africa show that fishmeal and fish oil exports from Mauritania alone have grown by an “alarming” 16% during 2020.
Activists and locals say the industry pushes up prices and depletes stocks of fish eaten by local people across poor communities in Mauritania, Senegal and the Gambia.
“This is big business stripping life from our oceans and depriving our fishing communities of their livelihoods,” said Dr Aliou Ba, the oceans campaign manager for Greenpeace Africa.
“This trade in fishmeal and fish oil is not sustainable. The fish that goes into fish oil and fish meal could be used to feed west African people.”
Each year more than half a million tonnes of fish are being taken from the coasts of Mauritania, Senegal and the Gambia and converted to fish meal and fish oil, used mainly in agriculture and fish farms, according to a report by Changing Markets, a Netherlands-based organisation, and Greenpeace Africa.