Journal of Fisheries Research

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Review Article - Journal of Fisheries Research (2023) Volume 7, Issue 2

Migration of artisanal fishers in West Africa: 50 years of observation

This paper presents the migration dynamics of artisanal fisheries in West Africa from 1970 to 2020. It is based on a review of the literature and the results of surveys conducted in the late 2000’s and early 2020’s. Three main periods characterize the evolution of West African fishermen’s migration. From 1970 to 1980, recurrent droughts pushed an abundant labor force to the coast, which the increasing motorization of pirogues allowed to be shipped to distant fishing grounds. However, migrant fishing remains seasonal. From 1980 to 2000, political conflicts and civil wars forced large sections of the population of Casamance, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Liberia to leave and open fishing camps in remote or island locations. The overexploitation of coastal fish stocks is also intensifying migratory movements to seek fish where they are still abundant. Migratory fishing has become a permanent activity. From the 2000’s onwards, a new dynamic was established due to the increased restrictions on access to fishing areas. Migrant fishermen are increasingly involved in the fish production and processing circuits of the host countries and are gradually disconnecting from their country of origin. Knowing that migrant fishing represents 20% of the total catch in West Africa, understanding the dynamics is a prerequisite for defining a policy and measures to control this unregulated, unreported and often illegal activity.

Author(s): Waly Bocoum, Pierre Failler, Moustapha Deme, El hadj Bara DEME

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