“The Sanyang-Gunjur beach for the past few days has been a sore sight littered with dead and rotten fish for miles due to illegal fishing of companies licensed by the Gambia Government Ministry of Fisheries and operated by Chinese nationals. A license to operate in any industry is not left to pollute and or damage the environment without consequences,” the statement revealed.
“UDP posits that illegal fishing occurs because of noncompliance with the terms and conditions of the licenses issued by the Gambia Government in respect of net sizes and other restrictions imposed in terms of fishing areas, quotas and catch sharing ratios. There are inadequate monitoring mechanisms of the license conditions within the Gambia Government. Consequently, the licensees usually non-Gambians dump the catch that does not conform to the size and varieties specifications of the target export markets back into the sea.”
The statement further pointed out that there are several environmental protection laws such as; anti-pollution, and anti-littering laws. It added that what is lacking in the Gambia is the vigorous enforcement of the laws and the diligent prosecution of all offenders.
The party noted that the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) must work in tandem to ensure that the laws of the land are respected by businesses.
UDP states its concern that if the Gambia Government fails to take immediate action to protect the marine environment and dismantle the corruption nexus between businesses and public officials, the marine ecosystem will degenerate further with adverse ramifications for the national economy.
On tourism, which is a major contributor to the Gross Domestic Product-GDP of the Gambia, the party said will suffer incalculable brand damage as “the Gambia, the Smiling Coast of Africa”.
“UDP is gravely concerned about the unsustainable exploitation in the mining subsector along the coastline of the Gambia. Sand mining both for exports and for the domestic construction industry is moving at a rapid pace which is not sustainable. If this trend continues unchecked with the present climate crises and sea-level rise will increase the Gambia’s vulnerability to climate-induced environmental disasters”.
The party urges the government to place a moratorium on issuing fishing licenses to commercial vessels; investigate and determine the rate of compliance with license conditions; and review the legal and regulatory framework of the fisheries industry with a view to putting it on a more sustainable path.