By Madiba Singhateh
Fishermen at the coastal town of Sanyang, have bitterly accused the Chinese fishmeal Companies of illegal and irregular fishing, interrupting their normal catches.
Most of the fisherman who are said to be Senegalese nationals, prefer to return that stay.
According to the fishermen the ocean is being robbed of fish by fishing vessels that are mainly Chinese nationals.
Ngorr, a Senegalese national who spoke to this reporter, the normal catches they used to get when they go out at sea, has drastically plummeted because of dragnets with small mesh, used illegally by these vessels; that they cannot make the usual catch the come home with, when they go out to sea these days, because there are many vessels out there that Government has to do something about it, or the country will lose a valuable natural resource. ‘‘The vessels have dragnets that cut through our nets and take our catches. When they do they take the fish and and discard our nets,’’ Ngorr said.
The fishermen complained that these boats fish for their Companies with different types of nets which affects even young fish; that these boats do not differentiate but instead fish indiscriminately.
The fishermen said the boats work for Chinese Companies with smaller net holes different from their own traditional ones.
Sainey Jarju another native of the village said Government urgently need to probe what is going on at sea, that some of these boats fish less than ten miles from the shores, where come to breed; that it is the place where they come to mate and lay their eggs, but that the area has been invaded by Chinese fishing vessels who use dragnets indiscriminately and destroy the seabed where the eggs are laid and young fish live.
It was reported last year that Gambia was negotiating a deal with private Companies to crack down on illegal fishing in her waters.
The report states that around $2billion is lost in illegal fishing on the West African coast.
In fact three Chinese fishing boat were recently seize but released by the Gambia Coast Guards sometime in May 2018.
The Navy officers accused the boat Captain and fishermen of fishing illegally in prohibited zones, with the wrong fishing nets in Gambian territorial waters.
However, when contacted, Sherif the supervisor who works at the factory, refuted the accusation and claims from the fishermen, about their Company. According to Sherif, the accusations and claims are baseless; that they are not working with any boats neither do they have one; that they do not dictate the type of net fishermen should use or the type of catch the fishermen should bring for them.
He said they do not tell anybody to catch juvenile fish; that even if the fishermen catch them, the Company will not buy it from them, because they have been warned by Government not to be involved in buying juvenile fish from fishermen.
Sherif also refuted claims that work is going on at the factory, and said the claims are baseless; that since Government stopped them from operating, they are yet to resume to work.