Alhaji Ousman Bojang, 80, a former police officer, who said he started fishing when he was 12, expressed his dismay at the manner in which Gambian waters are being wantonly abused.
He said: “We are allowing all these Senegalese boats here because of an agreement between The Gambia and Senegal? Look at the agreement and tell me what we are benefiting from it? The agreement states that Gambians can fish in the Senegalese waters and vice versa but do we go to Senegal and fish? Nobody is stopping Gambians from going to Senegal to fish but in Senegal they control their markets. If I catch my fish and go to Senegal to sell, as soon as I dock, a fishmonger will take charge of my boat to sell my fish and give me the money from the sales according to their laws. I do not think Gambians go to Senegal. But if you look at Senegal and this question of pause-netting, how many boats are they loading from our seas with fish to Senegal? If you go to Tanji you find about nearly almost 41 to 51 different boats going into Gambian waters and exploiting our resources. What benefit are there for us? Our waters are being overfished. My fears are in two to three years, it will be very difficult for our markets because the fishes are going far away. We may end up with no fishes in our waters. Nowadays you have to go 20 to 25 nautical miles to catch a fish while in my days it used to be just one mile. I just don’t know what is going on here.” He said.
Bojang, who has sired 25 offspring, added: “Today, the trend of fishing has changed completely compared to those days. The nets that are being used today are the most dangerous and are a threat against our natural resources. The Senegalese are using it here in The Gambia. Looking at this net and what it is costing us in our resources, is very bad. From the fish egg to any size of fish these tied nets used by the Senegalese capture it everything. Nothing escapes those nets sized. That is why we are finding it difficult in our waters today to catch fish. When you talk of those types of nets here, it costs you so much post-harvest losses. You kill for nothing and it cannot go to the market and in the end you destroy them all leaving the country with little or nothing the next day. This is a very serious issue.”]]>