The European Union (EU) handles all aspects of the con- trol and monitoring of fisher- ies’ activities for over 27 Eu- ropean countries. Recently, a delegation of African fisher- men met with EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Dam- anaki to explain the challenges that they and their families face. The meeting was part of a Greenpeace campaign to give African fishermen a voice to speak against the abuses of overfishing to politicians and play a part in the reform of EU fishing rules over the next three years.
Harouna Ismael Lebaye, a coastal fisherman in Maurita- nia, noted, “The current fish- ing system is truly irrational.I would like to ask Europeans to help us by no longer send- ing bottom trawlers and, in particular, boats that harm our ecosystem. I have been a fisherman for 21 years and I’m scared that I’m going to have to stop.”
According to Greenpeace, almost a quarter of all fish tak- en by European fishing boats is caught outside EU waters. This number is set to increase as European stocks decline further from overfishing. Fish- ing in foreign waters by the EU fishing fleet takes place off the coast of African countries. The EU fleet causes considerable environmental damage and jeopardizes the livelihoods of local fishing communities.
The EU catches about 1.2 million tons of fish per year overseas, in international wa- ters and in the waters of for- eign countries. Over 400,000 tons a year are fished in the waters of other countries, par- ticularly off the coast of West Africa.
Greenpeace EU’s fisheries policy director, Saskia Rich- artz, said, “The reform of Euro- pean fisheries rules will have a major impact on the health of our oceans, from the Bal- tic to the Mediterranean and from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. It will also have an ef- fect on the future of fishing communities across the world. Fisheries ministers must rec- ognize that overfishing cannot continue and that sustainabil- ity needs to be at the center of fishing agreements before it is too late.”