Presentation on theme: "State of the Northwest African marine fisheries resources Press briefing to accompany the International Symposium on Marine fisheries, ecosystems and societies."— Presentation transcript:
State of the Northwest African marine fisheries resources Press briefing to accompany the International Symposium on Marine fisheries, ecosystems and societies in West Africa: half a century of change held in Dakar, Senegal, June Prepared by the Sea Around Us Project, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada in collaboration with WWF-International
West Africa has a long tradition of fishing, via both local and distant water fleets … This graph illustrates the reach of Ghanaian fishers during the period up to 1959
The fish wealth of West Africa has also attracted distant water fleets from other continents … Number of ‘country access years’ by area,
Number of ‘country access years’ by area, … and these have increased tremendously over the years …
… finally reaching the present, staggering levels. Number of ‘country access years’ by area,
What is the impact of all this fishing on the resource base? We show this impact for the countries of the Northwest African sub-region using a methodology previously applied to the North Atlantic and which is documented at This methodology is based on maps of catch data and twenty ecosystem models, as presented at the Dakar Symposium by Villy Christensen, Reg Watson, and other members of the Sea Around Us Project.
Fish biomass in 1950 (excluding small pelagics)
Fish biomass in 1975 (excluding small pelagics)
Fish biomass in 1999 (excluding small pelagics)
The reason for this is fishing intensity, which was low in 1950 …
… but increased tremendously over time …
… finally reaching the very high present levels of fishing intensity.
Biomass intensity Fishing Catch In summary, we have:
Or, put differently …
Thus, we have found for West Africa, similar trends as for the North Atlantic … Biomass Fishing intensity
Conclusions The fish resources and ecosystems of Northwest Africa are as depleted as those of the North Atlantic and the fisheries are not sustainable; Surplus fishing vessels shifted from the ‘North’ to the ‘South’ will not increase catches; Rather, they will continue to undermine the development and food security of the West African countries.
Colleagues in West Africa, notably the members of the EU-funded SIAP project (Fisheries Information and Analysis System); The Environmental Program, Pew Charitable Trusts; The Sea Around Us Project Team at the Fisheries Centre, UBC, Vancouver, notably Villy Christensen (biomass maps), Reg Watson (catch maps) and Jackie Alder (country/fishing access maps). Acknowledgements