Fishermen left stranded as Senegal's most sought-after catch moves north

Coastal communities in Senegal are reeling as stocks of sardinella – the country’s most consumed fish – disappear from local waters. While fishermen blame industrial trawlers, scientists say climate change is sending the small, paddle-shaped fish northwards in search of cooler habitats.

Fisherman Amadou Gueye returns to Dakar's small port of Ouakam with only five octopuses after a long day spent at sea.

"It's not good. There's the current and no fish," he laments. "The big boats make it hard, leaving us with nowhere to fish."

Finding sardinella, a staple food and crucial economic resource in Senegal, has become a major challenge, confirms Ibrahima Ndiaye, vice-president of Ouakam's local fishermen's committee.

"The pirogues now spend seven days at sea going to Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea-Conakry – whereas in the past there was daily fishing," he tells RFI.

"We used to go out in the morning and come back in the evening."

Ecosystems changing

The so-called "tropicalisation of ecosystems" – or warmer sea temperatures altering north-west African coastal waters – is driving the redistribution of sardinella and other small pelagic fish.

Read more on RFI English

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