Senegalese fishermen in ‘gridlock’ at Dakar port

Senegal’s fishermen are pinning their hopes on the government of new president Bassirou Diomaye Faye to improve their situation, after a decade of difficulties due to declining fish production.

Ousmane NDIAYE, one of the fishermen made vulnerable by the current state of the port of Dakar, complains of social inequality, poverty and poor living conditions for the people of Dakar, caused in his view by illegal fishing by foreign vessels.

Previously, this port was a source of income for us and our families, but now our financial situation has become difficult to manage. This deterioration began immediately after the former government signed agreements with foreign companies to exploit our waters,” claims Ousmane, the embarrassment in which the fishermen find themselves.

It should be noted that Macky Sall, the former Senegalese president deemed “pro-French”, had signed an agreement with the European Union allowing 40 trawlers each year to catch up to 10,000 tonnes of fish in Senegalese waters.

This lack of control has enabled European companies to catch more fish than authorized. By 2020, Macky Sall had sold Senegal’s fishing industry to the European Union for just 3 million euros.

Following his election in March 2024, President Bassirou Diomaye Faye stressed that his government’s priorities were youth and job creation, limiting price rises, protecting human rights, “economic sovereignty”, development, strengthening national unity and improving security.

The new administration needs to work to regain control of the fishing industry, one of the sectors that contributes 1.8% to Senegal’s GDP and provides over 600,000 jobs, according to the Environmental Justice Foundation, far from the real figures, which could be higher.