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Togo: supporting togolese fishing communities

Togolese beaches bustle with activity in the early morning as wooden ‘pirogues’ are pushed out to sea, and later in the afternoon when they are hauled back in. Women smoke the fish and sell them on the beach and at the local market, just as their parents and grandparents did. However, these traditions are imperilled, and hunger and poverty are on the rise along these palm-fringed beaches.

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Artisanal fisher folk set out to sea in Togo

It is an absurdity of the global market that most of the fish eaten in Togo comes through Europe, while many of the country’s coastal fisherfolk are no longer able to sustain themselves by fishing. Hunger is increasing, as many people can no longer afford to buy the fish that is a major source of their protein.

 

Togo’s coastline and its inhabitants are threatened by modern fishing fleets from northern Europe, which dominate the sea and deplete its marine resources. They are enabled by international trade agreements, with the European Union for example, which provide unfair subsidies favouring large-scale operations over community-based coastal livelihoods. The governments of Togo and other West African countries are torn between the promised ‘development’ and income promised by these trade agreements, and the need to protect the natural resources upon which people depend for their livelihoods.

 

Friends of the Earth Togo is campaigning to convince the people of Togo to buy locally caught fish rather than cheaper foreign imports. They are also educating local fisherfolk about the importance of using alternative nets which allow the young fish to escape back into the sea where they can later breed. They support suspending fishing activities during certain periods, traditionally one week per month during the full moon, so that fish stocks can be replenished. They are also working with local women to promote alternative ways of smoking fish, and using recycled wood rather than local trees or charcoal.

 

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