African fishermen and Greenpeace win better international fishing practices, 2011-2012


End illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; eliminate destructive fishing practices; reduce sizes and numbers of foreign fishing fleets in African waters and increase monitoring of remaining vessels; establish sustainable fishing and fish processing operations managed and financed by Africans

Time period

February, 2011 to September, 2012



Location City/State/Province

Dakar, Senegal

Location Description

fishing communities, West African waters
Jump to case narrative

Methods in 1st segment

  • Fishermen and Greenpeace representatives went to Europe to talk to EU leaders

Methods in 4th segment

  • for legislation reform and sustainable fishing policies

Methods in 5th segment

Segment Length

approxiamtely 3 months

Notes on Methods

Fishermen and Greenpeace also initiated a caravan for collecting the petitions in Segment 4.


Senegalese, Mozambican, and Mauritanian fishermen; Greenpeace


Mozambican Ministry of Fisheries

External allies

Mack Sall, the President of Senegal

Involvement of social elites

Mack Sall, the President of Senegal


European Union, Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association, Senegalese government

Nonviolent responses of opponent

Not known

Campaigner violence

Thousands of protesters clashed with police in Drakar on 29 January 2012, resulting in one death.

Repressive Violence

Police clashed with protesters in Dakar on 29 January 2012. One person died.


Economic Justice



Group characterization

environmental activists (local and international)

Groups in 1st Segment

African fishermen

Groups in 6th Segment

Mauritanian Ministry of Fisheries
Mack Sall

Segment Length

approxiamtely 3 months

Success in achieving specific demands/goals

3 out of 6 points


1 out of 1 points


3 out of 3 points

Total points

7 out of 10 points

Notes on outcomes

The campaign was only partially successful because while Greenpeace and the African fishermen have managed to pressure the Senegalese government to cancel licenses for 29 trawlers thereby reducing the numbers of trawlers and the environmental damage they cause in African waters, Greenpeace success in establishing sustainable fishing and fish processing operations managed and financed by Africans is unclear.

Database Narrative

Having overfished their own fish stocks, European and other foreign countries have turned to African waters to sustain their fishing industries. At the time of this campaign, the EU had Fisheries Partnership Agreements (FPA) with seven West African countries including Mauritania and Mozambique and had an FBA with Senegal that the EU discontinued in 2006. The EU also had a Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) that managed the exploitation of living aquatic resources and ensured sustainable economic, environmental and social conditions. However, the CFP subsidized the Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association (PFA) and European trawlers with high and unsustainable fishing quotas that depleted African fish stocks and harmed many endangered species. Greenpeace, a global organization focused on environmental protection, worked with Senegalese, Mauritanian, and Mozambican governments to combat illegal fishing by foreign trawlers in African waters. The organization focused on ending illegal and unregulated fishing in Africa, eliminating destructive fishing methods, reducing the sizes and numbers of foreign fleets fishing in African waters, and developing a network of well-enforced marine reserves.

Greenpeace began documenting illegal fishing in Africa in 2001 and 2006. From 24 February and 1 April 2010, Greenpeace sent one of their ships, the “Arctic Sunrise,” to Mauritania and Senegal and found 93 foreign fishing vessels, 61 of which were from the EU.

In February 2011, Senegalese fishermen went on strike to protest overfishing by foreign vessels. Actions that occurred prior to the February strike are unknown.

On 5 April 2011, Greenpeace launched the African Voices Tour, sending nine fishing community representatives and Greenpeace representatives to Europe to speak with European politicians and convince them to change the EU’s policy on fishing in African seas. Planning the tour to coincide with the revision of the CFP, Greenpeace demanded that EU external fleets have same regulations as domestic ones and seafood imports should meet environmental and social standards.

Senegalese fishermen conducted a one-day strike on 21 April to protest the Drakar (capital of Senegal) government’s decision to allow foreign boats to fish off the coast of Senegal. The government had issued 22 licenses to trawlers from Belize, Comoro Islands, Mauritius, Russia, and Ukraine, allowing trawlers from those countries to fish for sardines and horse mackerel despite Senegal’s already overfished marine resources and the country’s dependence on fishing as its main source of income.

In May and June, Greenpeace continued to call on the EU to change their fishing policies. It then turned to the Senegalese government, urging it to reinstate its annual two-month moratorium on commercial fishing. The national industrial lobby also pressured the Maritime Economy minister Kouraichi Thiam.

No information was found on developments between July 2011 and January 2012.

From January 14 to 19, 2012, just weeks before the presidential election, Greenpeace and Senegalese fishermen launched the “My Voice, My Future” caravan to tour main fishing communities and gather 3000 petitions calling for the government to reform legislation and establish sustainable fishing policies.  During the week, over 6000 representatives from the fishing communities symbolically placed their handprints on a banner reading “Your voice counts, make it heard now.” The fishermen demanded transparency, good governance of the fishing sector, an end to authorizing foreign fishing vessels, and support for local fisheries.  They also called for a network of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) to prohibit fishing and allow the restoration of fish stocks.

Fishermen in Dakar turned violent on January 29 when the Constitutional Court announced that the incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade would run for the third time in the upcoming elections. Thousands stormed the streets and clashed with police. One person died. Greenpeace denounced the violent outbreak.

Greenpeace protested against the Russian trawler “Vasili Lozovski” on February 15 by carrying a banner saying “Stop fishing away Africa’s future.” Greenpeace used the same tactic in protesting a Lithuanian trawler five days later.

On February 16, Senegalese fishermen welcomed the arrival of Greenpeace’s ship “Arctic Sunrise.” Greenpeace used this ship to document and expose overexploitation of marine resources and increase global awareness that Africa was feeding foreign countries at the expense of its own development and sustainability.

Greenpeace continued protesting individual trawlers on February 24 and March 2 when they painted “Pillage and Plunder” on the side of the Russian trawler “Oleg Naydenov” that was illegally fishing in Senegal and placed a banner reading “stop EU-subsidized plunder” on the side of a PFA trawler “Maartje Theadora” to protest European overfishing in Mauritanian waters.

Mack Sall, the new president of Senegal was elected on March 25. He pledged to review the conditions for authorizing fishing licenses and to fight against marine resource piracy in his April 4 speech.

On 3 May 2012, the Senegalese government canceled licenses for 29 foreign trawlers. Greenpeace continued to call for a moratorium on fishing license distribution and for the EU to support a new CFP that would reduce fishing fleet sizes and numbers.

From September 10 to 24, Greenpeace’s ship “Rainbow Warrior” worked with the Mozambican Ministry of Fisheries to patrol waters and inspect foreign ships. One Japanese fleet that was inspected refused to allow officials to weigh shark fins found on board.

Senegalese fishermen have since seen an increase in their catches. However, Greenpeace continues to struggle for the development of a network of marine reserves and sustainable fishing and fish processing operations managed and financed by Africans.


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Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy

Iris Fang, 30/09/2012