ACCRA, ABUJA – This investigation exposes a hidden network of Chinese control and ownership of many industrial fishing vessels operating in Ghanaian and Nigerian waters in contravention of local laws.
It shows how these Chinese companies commonly operate through “front” companies to obtain fishing licenses and with very minimal action from regulatory bodies, depriving these countries of revenue which could be invested in many deprived areas.
This investigation also shows that in contravention of the Ghana’s Fisheries Management Plan, the Fisheries Commission in 2019 granted three fishing licenses to Shandong Zhonglu Oceanic Fisheries Co. Ltd, a publicly traded Chinese company which made millions of dollars in profit from its operations in Ghana.
The story reveals the negative impact of illegal industrial fishing on the marine ecosystem and biodiversity in Ghana and Nigeria and the significant economic toll on artisanal fishers.
The story highlights how current laws in both countries have been rendered ineffective through years of non-enforcement serving as a boost to illegal, unreported and unregulated IUU fishing.
The journalists speak to civil society experts, government representatives, local fishers and the academia to understand what is at stake, who is bearing the burden of this illegal industrial fishing practices, and how the international community, particularly the European Union, which is a huge market for seafood from West Africa could play a role to mitigate the looming crisis in the fisheries sector of both countries.
Photo: Chinese and local staff operate machinery on a fishing boat © Ghana Navy
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