Senegal fishermen. Credit: Flickr_Tagon
Fishing boats at Mbour, Senegal. Credit: Flickr/Bart van Poll
Modern tuna purse seiners in port, Dakar, Senegal. Credit: NOAA

Senegal wins World Bank support for fisheries development - Senegal has recently been awarded World Bank funding worth US$8.5 million to develop sustainable coastal fisheries.

The funding is part of a total $25.5 million integrated fisheries project package that the European Union and Swiss government also are supporting aimed at promoting economic development among coastal fishing communities by improving fisheries management and rehabilitating inshore ecosystems damaged by non-sustainable fisheries practices.

Located on the West Coast of Africa, Senegal and neighbouring coastal countries boast some of the richest fishing grounds in the world owing to exceptionally favourable natural conditions. As a result, marine fish are among the country's leading natural resources and provide a major source of income to coastal communities.

Senegal has a population of about 12 million, about half of which live in cities due to rural migration caused by drought and poverty. Fishing and associated activities including processing, marketing, services and various part-time activities are estimated to provide around 600,000 jobs in Senegal including those for 52,000 people directly employed in small scale fisheries. Employment in fisheries provides income for almost 20% of the labour force and around 10% of the rural population.

Apart from providing jobs, the fisheries sector is a major source of the nation's food supply and accounts for about 70% of all animal protein consumed in the country. Estimated annual per capita fish consumption is around 26kg, substantially above the global average of 16kg.

The fisheries sector plays an important role in Senegal's economy. According to the World Bank, between 1997 and 2002 the fisheries sector accounted for 2.3% of total GDP. Fish products constitute some 37% of the country's exports by value and around 32% by volume. Fisheries exports worth US$366 million were recorded in 2005.

The importance of fisheries in Senegal has contributed to some of the sector's problems during the past decade which the World Bank-backed programme aims to tackle. The fisheries sector has been facing major problems in recent years due to over fishing and the uncontrolled growth of fishing activities.

Fishermen's numbers along with number of fishing boats and gear have risen along with land-based facilities including fish processing plants and cold storage depots. Although fisheries production grew with the increase in fishing activities and the concurrent expansion of processing facilities, production more recently has begun to decline due to uncontrolled fishing which has resulted in annual catches exceeding a sustainable level of output.

Fisheries production in Senegal rose until the mid-1980s after which catches began to level off and landings in the country's fishing ports began to decline. Since then small scale fishing activities have expanded while the number of large fishing vessels has remained stable.

Rising world prices and demand for fish have encouraged small scale fishing to expand in spite of the smaller catches being landed. In addition, Senegalese fishermen have ventured further up and down the Coast of West Africa in search of fish, catching lower value species and fishing in neighbouring countries' territorial waters. One result of the small scale fishing expansion is many of the highest value coastal demersal fish stocks are severely depleted and facing rapid decline unless effective fisheries management is introduced.

According to government figures, catches of white grouper fell from 60,000t in 1971 to 7,000t in 1999 with a study completed in 2007 reporting the species is in danger of extinction in Senegalese waters.

Meanwhile, catches of coastal demersal species fell from more than 140,000t in 1997 to about 84,000t in 2002 with the share of low value species in the catch growing significantly. Other species in decline include conch of which production fell from 20,000t in 1989 to 5,000t in 1998 due to depleted stocks.

According to the FAO, Senegal's total wild capture fish production in 2005 totalled 405,000 metric tons (mt).

Fishery exports worth US$252 million were shipped during 2005. Of these frozen marine fish exports were worth $36.2 million, frozen tuna $11.2 million, processed tuna $7.8 million, frozen shrimps and prawns $9.3 million, fresh and chilled fish $7.9 million, frozen octopus $7.2 million and frozen cuttlefish $6 million.

Senegal's fishing industry is divided into coastal fisheries and offshore fisheries that extend out from coastal areas to the edge of the nation's 200 mile territorial waters limit where migratory species are caught.

An estimated 52,000 artisanal fishermen use about 10,000 fishing vessels of which about 90% are motorised. A further 7,000 fishermen work in inland waters, particularly the Senegal River.

In addition, in 2002 there were 142 industrial fishing vessels in Senegalese waters including 30 tuna vessels.

Foreign fishing vessels also are active in Senegal's waters with fishing boats from various EU countries normally taking about 10,000t per year, mostly of high value crustaceans and tuna.

Coastal demersal fish species usually account for around 25% of the annual fish catch and represent more than 50% of the value of fishery exports. Consequently problems facing coastal demersal fisheries in Senegal are of major concern.

Women are responsible for most artisanal fish processing in Senegal with processes including drying, salting, smoking and fermenting. About one third of the total artisanal catch is processed.

Industrial scale fish processing is carried out by around 30 companies. In addition to filleting, four fish canning plants and two fishmeal factories are in production in Senegal.

According to a World Bank study, about 30% of the demersal fish catch taken by small scale fishermen that is landed in Senegal is caught outside of the country's own waters. Around 2,000 Senegalese pirogue fishing boats are estimated to be fishing in the waters of neighbouring Guinea-Bissau. Other countries affected by the economic and environmental impact of unregulated cross border fishing are Guinea, The Gambia and Mauritania.

In its recent announcement the World Bank agreed to provide a $6 million grant along with a $3.5 million loan credit to assist Senegal in implementing its Sustainable Management of Fish Resources project that will complement the World Bank's ongoing Integrated Marine and Coastal Resource Management project in Senegal and fisheries support initiatives being funded by other sources including the European Union. The World Bank project will focus on developing fisheries co-management by government agencies and local fishing communities of the entire central coastal region from the Cap Vert Peninsula to the Saloum River Delta.

EU funding is being provided to assist Senegal develop sustainable fisheries to reduce the number of Senegalese fishermen immigrants along with others from West Africa arriving in Spain and Europe by sea. In addition, the EU and World Bank are supporting the government of Senegal in promoting alternative livelihoods to fishing in targeted communities to reduce pressure on fisheries resources.

Government recognition of the fishery sector's importance resulted in the government naming sustainable fisheries development as a key driver in the country's first Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper 2003-2005. Fisheries is named as one of five sectors in the national economy with high development potential in the current second Poverty Reduction Strategy paper 2006-2010.

Senegal's Ministry of Maritime Economy, Marine Transport, Fisheries and Community Protected Areas (MEM) is the main government agency involved in implementing the sustainable fisheries development programme. On a local level the ministry works with Local Fishers Councils and Local Artisanal Fishers' Councils to co-manage coastal resources in each particular area.

Studies have shown that around 70% of community members surveyed in participating communities are satisfied with project activities to rehabilitate coastal fish stocks including the use of protected fisheries zones, the construction of artificial reefs and the use of eco-labelling for processed fisheries products.

The World Bank and MEM have set three targets for the sustainable fisheries development project: Co-management of coastal resources by local fishing communities and government agencies will be strengthened, while local communities will assist in work to protect the habitat of important local fish species. In addition, support will be given to alternative occupations outside of fisheries in specially targeted areas.

The actual project will consist of four components.

Consultants, extension workers and others will be used to promote and support co-management initiatives in four pilot areas encouraging state agency and local fishing community organisations to work together.

The rehabilitation of coastal ecosystems in the central region of Senegal's Atlantic coastline will involve setting up protected fishing zones with artificial reefs to regenerate natural resources.

The third component aims to tackle poverty alleviation among fishing community members affected by the co-management policy including fishermen, fish processors and fish transporters. This will include providing support facilities for those leaving the fisheries sector and monitoring the effectiveness of the programme.

The fourth component involves the provision of consultancy and other support for MEM to assist in the development of a Fisheries Code and support for the implementation of the Fisheries Management Plans.

The World Bank also will supply technical support to help MEM officials manage, monitor and evaluate the project through its various phases. In addition, support will be provided to enable MEM to replicate the co-management project on a wider geographical scale to encourage the adoption of co-management of coastal fisheries resources throughout Senegal.

Key indicators for the effectiveness of the project will include an increase in the average size of fish caught for targeted species in co-managed coastal areas along with a reduced level of fishing effort indicating improvements in fish numbers for targeted species.

In addition to 70% of surveyed community members in participating coastal communities being satisfied with activities to restock coastal fish stocks using fish protection zones, artificial reefs and eco-labelling, each community targeted by the project will have access to micro credit while poverty reduction measures are implemented in four pilot sites at least.

Meanwhile, the government of Senegal is working together with eight other countries to prepare a regional initiative on the introduction of fishing access rights to cover the whole of West Africa. The World Bank has indicated its intention to co-finance this project which will support the introduction of large scale fishing rights within the region. The scheme also will complement initiatives to promote the co-management of fishery resources by government agencies under MEM and local fishing communities being introduced by the Bank's current projects in Senegal.

MEM also is participating in the internationally funded Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem project which aims to address trans-boundary concerns on declining fisheries among various West African countries. The project is considering issues including biodiversity and marine water quality and how these can be achieved through multilateral governance, investment and management programmes.


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