That’s happening everywhere…
Foreign trawlers and an expanding fishmeal industry are increasingly threatening the livelihood of Senegalese fishermen, forcing many to migrate to Europe, writes the BBC’s Alfonso Daniels.
Mor Ndiaye, 34, has lived all his life in St Louis, a bustling fishing town in northern Senegal. Its sandy streets are crammed with children and roaming goats. Life here was good until a few years ago when everything changed.
“The fish just vanished, what can we do? We used to catch enough fish in a day or two. Now we need to go out at sea for weeks to catch the same amount. It’s terrifying, we can only rely on God,” he says, standing next to men carrying fish in large plastic crates over their heads from the few traditional wooden boats arriving ashore.
St Louis, a former French West African colonial capital, lies at the heart of one of the world’s richest fishing areas.
Fish caught here – mainly sardinella and other so-called pelagic or open sea fish migrating up and down the coast – have provided up to 75% of the protein consumed by millions of people in Senegal and across Africa’s interior in countries like Burkina Faso and Mali.
‘Soaring fish prices’
But decades of mainly European and Asian trawlers scouring its coastline have meant that its waters have been overfished.
As fish run out, artisanal fishermen are building larger boats to go further out to sea, making overfishing even worse.