The ocean off West Africa is home to one of the world's richest fishing grounds. Since three decades, European fleets have had access to these waters through agreements negotiated between the EU and local governments. This exploitation on an industrial scale – with the target markets being the European Union as well as parts of East Asia – has impoverished the sea and deprived local fishermen of their main source of income. Apart from the ships authorised through licensed agreements, dozens of trawlers are fishing illegally in these waters. The actors involved in the illegal fishing reportedly use the port of Las Palmas, in Spain's Canary Island, to smuggle their catch into the EU.

As a consequence of both these aspects, local fishermen have seen their catches shrinking. In the whole region, fishermen are experiencing a huge crisis, which is forcing many of them to abandon their occupation and sometimes to migrate elsewhere, notably to the European Union. The same discourse applies to the processing and marketing sectors, where women play a major role. This is a vicious circle, since European fish industry receives subsidies under the EU's Common Fisheries Policy for more than €1 billion a year.

The project follows the whole chain in order to show its contradictions. It takes place in three different locations: 1) Senegal coastline, where local fishermen are struggling to compete with foreign vessels, both authorised and not. 2) Spain, where a big quantity of fish caught in West African waters is unloaded to be sold or processed 3) Bruxelles, to get an insight from EU officials and NGOs working on the subsidies and the reform of CFP. The aim of this web-documentary is to serve as an information but also an advocacy tool for the civil society and the decision makers both on the African and European levels.

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Project information

  • Locations
    Madrid - Spain, Dakar - Senegal, Brussels - Belgium
  • Duration
    6 months
  • Release date
    September 2015
  • Budget
    € 15900
  • Round