Monday, January 14, 2008

Europe Takes Africa’s Fish, and Boatloads of Migrants Follow

Last year roughly 31,000 Africans tried to reach the Canary Islands, a prime transit point to Europe, in more than 900 boats. About 6,000 died or disappeared, according to one estimate cited by the United Nations.

A fairly heartbreaking article in the New York Times on why we should check where our fish come from and on why some Africans risk their life to reach a new life in Europe.

Many scientists agree. A vast flotilla of industrial trawlers from the European Union, China, Russia and elsewhere, together with an abundance of local boats, have so thoroughly scoured northwest Africa’s ocean floor that major fish populations are collapsing.

The region’s governments bear much of the blame for their fisheries’ decline. Many have allowed a desire for money from foreign fleets to override concern about the long-term health of their fisheries. Illegal fishermen are notoriously common; efforts to control fishing, rare.

But in the view of West African fishermen, Europe is having its fish and eating them, too. Their own waters largely fished out, European nations have steered their heavily subsidized fleets to Africa.

That has crippled coastal economies and added to the surge of illegal migrants who brave the high seas in wooden pirogues hoping to reach Europe. While reasons for immigration are as varied as fish species, Europe’s lure has clearly intensified as northwest Africa’s fish population has dwindled.


Alexpr said...

Interesting Di. I had not heard that explanation for the surge in migrants. Italy gets many of them. Especially during the summer.

I guess the Med is as fished out as just about everywhere.

We're a funny bunch us humans - great at taking, but not so good at putting back, or considering the consequences of our actions.

Di Mackey said...

It's sad that the explanations for the immigrants are rarely taken into account, probably due to most people never understanding what it is to walk away from your people and your country to a world that, more often than not these days, is going to be fairly unkind to you.

Sometimes I wonder if the question isn't 'if your family were struggling to survive, would you be willing to take tremendous risks to travel an ocean or through unfriendly foreign countries to find work to send money back to support them?'

I t

Alexpr said...

You are so right, I often marvel at how people from as far a field as the Philippines and South America come over to Italy.

I mean, life in their countries of origin must be pretty dire.

Yet this point is rarely made.

Very odd.