“They sell the fish, they process it, and they earn the money that has to be advanced for the fishers to buy fuel so that they can sail out in the first place.”

Reducing competition

However, their livelihoods were threatened by industrial fishery. “In just one day, a European or Asian fish trawler takes significantly more fish out of the sea than a Mauritanian or Senegalese boat can with the same number of crew in a whole year,” explained Thilo Hoppe, Development Cooperation Official of the organisation Bread for the World. It was difficult for local artisanal small fishers to hold their own given such competition, Hoppe maintained, adding that there were a wide range of other challenges for the sector, starting with illegal fishing and marine pollution, but also including threats such as the expansion of port facilities and tourism projects as well as the already mentioned negative impacts of climate change.