Earth is a planet like no other. It carries in it the beauty of generations, the strength of nations and the mark of a life time of endurance. Always I ask myself when are we going to put an end to this continuous torture and pain we put this mass of beauty through. Yes, everyone talks of climate change and what will happen in time if we do not change our lifestyles. Everybody seems to understand the consequences of our reckless use of scarce natural resources. However we fail to stop because most of us seem to have a clear understanding of times and is wise enough to know the most devastating effects will not occur in our life times.



How Industrial Twin Trawling And Shark Fin Fishing Is Devastating A Nation.

  The high food prices witnessed in many countries across the world today has been linked to a couple of causes. However everyone seems to agree with one cause i.e. the growth of the Asian middle class primarily in China and India. The increase in their food needs have pushed them to predatory fishing practices and as usual the regular culprit of such insatiable desires is Africa.

  The Practices:

Industrial Twin Fishing is a highly controversial fishing practice and it is becoming more common in Cameroonian coastal waters, especially in the shallower coastal section, thus competing with artisanal fisheries; it involves two fishing vessels pulling the same trawl. They are separated by a long distance (300m to 500 m) and drive the fish towards the trawl with their drag, propeller noise and warps vibration. This method of fishing, observed in Limbé makes it difficult to implement sustainable management scheme of resources. As vessels are small, they can exploit shallow waters (2m-6 m) near the coast line. The trawl opening is practically from the bottom to the surface (floats are above the water while the codend sweeps the bottom). In this way benthic, demersal and pelagic species may all be caught together. The meshes of the trawls are of small sizes which does not spare juvenile fish. This fishing system is commonly called "sweeping nets”.

There is also shark Fin Fishing. Since sharks are delicacies in Asia. They are caught and their fins cut off. The carcasses are later thrown back into the seas. They die and decompose thereby causing untold damage to marine ecology.


  The Socio-Economic and Environmental Impact of Twin Trawling and Shark Fin Fishing in Cameroonian waters.

  The above-mentioned fishing practices are causing untold damage not just to Cameroonian and international waters but also to the Fishing sector and the overall economic health of the country.

        On the economic front artisanal fishermen dependent on fishing from the seas in Limbe, Idenau, Wovia, Bimbia and Ndian suffer incredibly from over fishing in the high seas. They are unable to get enough fish to meet the local demand. This has caused fish prices to plummet incredibly over the pass few months. Fish prices have tripled in the last five months. However the high prices haven’t translated to higher incomes for fishermen as they can’t get enough fish to meet the desperate local demand. This is causing unprecedented poverty to local fishermen.

       Fishing generates approximately 89 mn Frs CFA monthly, however this figures have reduced drastically to just over 30 mn frs Monthly and it is relating to so many other aspects of the economies of many coastal towns in the country. Certain fish species such as Barracuda are so scarce and expensive that locals can hardly afford.

       On the Environmental side of the issue, it is no news how much the marine food chain is obstructed when you take sharks out of the mix. Biological pollution from the dumping of fish carcass back into the seas is killing other species. There are hardly any accurate means of calculating fish numbers in the Cameroonian waters however latest surveys show catches have dropped more than 50% over the last 1 year.

       All of this can show us the extent to which disastrous fishing practices are affecting the marine ecology in Cameroon coastal waters.


What the Government Is Doing

The government of Cameroon has been slow to respond to the anguish of its citizens, despite several calls from civil society organisations and the population the government stayed silent and refused to respond. Only after questions where raised about the government role in the illegal sea trading did the minister of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal industries sent a letter demanding an end to the fishing activities of the FINI Group (one of the main fishing license holders in the region).

         Despite all this there has been little change or improvement in the way in which fishing is being practiced in the region. With the government reluctant to engage this Chinese the fight has been pushed to fishermen and civil society organisation.


  * The first group of pictures shows young sharks that have been caught killed and finned.

* The second shows a woman complaining about unavailability of fish and the size of fishing net used for fishing.

* The last group show carcass deposited on shores, idle fishing boats and idle artisanal fishermen playing cards because of lack of work.

* Newspaper showing government band on twin trawling.

By Ndenge Godden Zama & Ayuk Raphael

African Centre for Research, Development and Climate Change.

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