In the last fifteen years, Greenpeace has documented and exposed how distant water fleets and illegal vessels have moved their fleets to West Africa, after overexploiting fish stocks in their own waters. Chinese, Russian and European fleets are among the most prominent in West African waters. Their activities have, and continue to, compromise the food security and livelihoods of coastal communities who largely depend on artisanal fishing.

The West African waters are among the richest in the world. Millions of people and local communities depend on these waters to survive. However, as the population in West Africa is growing, the fish stocks are declining as a result of overfishing, climate change, pollution and destruction of critical habitats. This situation is exacerbated by the lack of efficient fisheries management in the region, Illegal Unregulated and Undeclared fishing activities (IUU fishing), and the weakness of surveillance systems in most of the countries.

In February 2017 the Greenpeace ship, “My Esperanza” set sail from the port of Praia (Cape Verde), and for eleven weeks explored the waters of six West African states – Cape Verde, Mauritania, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Senegal to raise awareness on the state of fisheries through political events, public engagement and consultations with the West African science community.

The Greenpeace Africa ship tour named “Hope in West Africa” provided an opportunity for the voices of these countries, on protecting their own sea and marine resources, to be heard internationally.

The “Hope in West Africa” ship tour reiterated Greenpeace Africa’s ultimate commitment to working with local communities and governments in addressing issues of overfishing and illegal fishing that have plagued the West African region for decades.

A victory for Greenpeace Africa and the West African fishing communities was announced in March 2018. One year following the Greenpeace Africa “Hope in West Africa” ship tour, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture cancelled subsidies and removed permits on three Chinese companies conducting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in West Africa. During the ship tour, vessels from all three companies had been arrested in the West African region during a joint patrol between Greenpeace and local fisheries inspectors. Evidence of various infringements was handed over, including illegal nets, shark finning and fishing without licences.

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