Opinion: Foul play on our beaches, the state must act
By Lamin A Jarju, New York, United States:
Born and raised from the village. Sound was one useful mode of communication and information which becomes very instrumental in a typical traditional settlement.
The early morning or late evening long or unending horn of a mini truck is reminder for all about the arrival of mobile fish vendors from coastal towns of Gunjur, Sanyang etc to the villages. The rush to the selling points and eagerness to get served and the celebration to get that Kombo Chalo (Bonga fish) is a blessing to each family that can afford it.
From Kartong to Koina and North to South, fish mainly Bonga is a source of food for most households. It is mostly affordable , palatable and and can be use for different purposes.
Not only those fishing and the fish value chain provides food, fish from the coast to the hinterland provides a remarkable opportunity for self employment which improves the socioeconomic status of our people especially women. The economic benefit is immense at all levels of the fish value chain. Any effect of the process has massive consequences at any point in time.
Beyond our borders, the coastal fishing communities export fish to Neighboring countries such as Guines Bissau, Mali and Ghana. Perhaps that market is shrinking due to massive destruction in the sea resulting to rapid and high rate of death of the country’s fish.
The catastrophe happening on the beaches of the southern coastlines is not only an issue of the coastal villages and towns but a national food security and a environmental threat for today and the future.
Few months ago, The Gambia Government signed a fishing deal with the European Union allowing them to fish within Gambian waters using massive vessels and trollers. We are in trouble.
Despite specific guidelines provided in the agreement limiting the amount of catch, it is clear and the government has made it known that Gambia does not have the capacity to harvest certain species of fish in our waters.
Who will therefore belief that the government will adequately monitor the European vessels to ensure they are fishing and catching within the agreement? I doubt if we can.
The problem here is not a Gunjur or Sanyang problem. It is a crucial and general Gambian problem. Citizens and Environmental groups are concerned and raising the flag for the Government to take action but it seems this matter is not a priority to the government.
I am concerned about the rate at which the fish population is deteriorating in our seas. On one hand The fish are dying massively and on the other hand European vessels are harvesting, what will be left for local harvesting and consumption?
I urge the institutions concerned to act now rather than later.
Our fish are dying massively and the authorities doesn’t seem to care. I wish the fish can vote.
Lamin A Jarju - New York, United States of America