Ocean examines how international fishing agreements between the EU and other countries are helping to create jobs and healthier seas in West Africa.
“With this new boat, we can go further out at sea and catch more fish.”
Pombas is a small city on Santo Antão, the western most island of the Cape Verde archipelago in the central Atlantic. The city has dozens of fishermen, and their numbers are growing as more young men enter the profession. One obstacle to fishing at sea is the need for a motorised boat.
For fisherman, Adirson Carlos Da Cruz Dos Santos, the cost of buying such a vessel was too much money. Luckily for him, the fishermen of Pombas recently got a brand new boat paid for by Cape Verde’s government. That was thanks to a partnership agreement with the European Union.
It means the younger men can go out to sea with more experienced fishermen, learning the craft while also earning a living.
“With this new boat, we can go further out to sea and catch more fish. It can be shared between many fishermen without any problem. So if someone needs a boat and doesn’t have their own, they can use this one,” Adirson says.
Harnessing the power of the Sun
But the EU partnership has delivered more than just new boats. The village of Monte Trigo lies in a secluded part of Santo Antão. The nearest fish market is in the next town, half an hour away by boat.
That’s a problem for the fishermen as fish goes off quickly in such a hot climate. An affordable way to preserve the catch is therefore needed.
The sun-drying method has been popular here for centuries, however the sun is also now being harnessed in other ways to keep what is caught fresh.
New solar-powered ice machines enable cold storage, meaning the villagers no longer have to rush to the market with their catch.
“This facility has really improved the lives of the fishermen. Now when they catch some fish they don’t have to bring it to the market straight-away. They can stockpile their catches for 2-3 days and then move everything in one trip — as a result they make big savings using less fuel for boat trips,” says Maria Rasa, President of Monte Trigo Fisherman’s Association.
The project is just one example of hundreds that the deal with the EU has helped. In exchange for €750 000 euros in financial support, Cape Verde allows European vessels to fish in its exclusive economic zone.
Boosting the local economy
The partnership has created lots of local jobs. Fish landed by a Spanish vessel at the port of Mindelo is processed at this factory. It belongs to a leading European supplier, but almost all the workers are local – 70% of them women.
“We’re processing tuna and other seafood in Cape Verde — that’s resulted in 2000 direct jobs. We are the largest exporter in the country, and fish represents more than 90 percent of …….