West African fish-deprived fishermen turn the bow towards Spain

By Eloy Vera

Puerto del Rosario, Spain, Aug 11 (EFE).- What started as a day like any other for Mohammed, as he hopped onto his dugout canoe to go fishing, would unsuspectingly turn his entire life upside down when boats waving Asian flags appeared in the ocean and started to deplete the Senegalese waters’ fish population.

With meagre fish to sell anymore and under life-threatening debt pressure, Mohammed was forced to flee to Spain.

Greenpeace has warned against resource plunder policies in West Africa forcing people to migrate to the Spanish Canary islands in the Atlantic, undertaking one of the most dangerous migratory routes to Europe.

According to the International Organization for Migration, 399 people died trying to reach Spain through this western route during the first half of the year. Some 250 of them were on their way to the Canaries.

The Spanish collective Caminando Fronteras estimates that 2,087 people have died or disappeared in Spain throughout the first six months of 2021, 1,922 of them on the route to the Canary islands.

Mohammed and Mamadou, pseudonym names as they wish to remain anonymous, were shoved by the sea from Senegal to the Spanish islands aboard a dugout.

In his native Wolof language, Mohammed explains he never went to school, and that he has spent 15 years, half of his life, catching fish in his hometown.

His business thrived. He had his own boat, had 11 men hired, and brought home more than enough income to maintain his family.

Until Chinese boats arrived and racked up all the fish, he told Efe.

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