The PRO of the Gambia Artisanal Fisheries Association, Omar Gaye, has accused some fishermen of being complicit with traffickers in facilitating irregular sea journeys to Europe.
The Gambia is currently witnessing a surge in the number of boats, leaving its shores for the EU with their human cargoes of hundreds of Gambians.
However, according to Mr. Gaye, fishermen have been playing a key role in facilitating the dangerous journeys.
“All the bosses of these agents are fishermen. So, they bear responsibility because they are the ones, whoknow the seaworthy boats for this journey. They are usually the captains of these boats since they have theexperience and have been in the sea for ages,” he stated.
The artisanal fisheries association’s PRO pointed out that the use of boats for illegal migration has now become a lucrative business venture for the players.
He lamented that the agents and their bosses are cashing in on the gullibility of their clients.
“Those embarking on these journeys to Europe are innocent because they don’t know anything about boats. All they want is to get to Europe. I received information that nine boats that departed The Gambia disappeared on the way and no one knows their whereabouts whilst the organizers of those journeys are right here in our midst and we know some of them,” Gaye told The Voice in an exclusive yesterday.
He explained that the issue of Backway has festered to a point that it requires a concerted effort to stem it.
“The security alone cannot handle this matter but authorities are weak in collaborating with the local fishermen. If security wants their interventions to be effective, they should collaborate with the heads of all the fish landing sites,” Gaye opined.
He explained that the Backway travelers have now cut across all demographics.
“I used to see only the young boys embarking on this journey but the table has now turned. You see very young boys and girls, women, pregnant women, and the elderly all going through this journey. It’s high time the government called for a dialogue with fishermen,” Gaye highlighted.
Commenting on the ramifications of deploying fishing boats for irregular migration, Gaye opined that the practice can cost the country the majority of its youthas well as limit the number of fishermen and fish stock.
“Currently, most of the boat owners have parked their boats because they don’t have anyone to employ. All the boys want to go to Europe through the Backway and there will be fish shortage and fish price hikes if these fishing boats are not functioning,” Gaye pointed out.