LIMBE - Fishermen Accuse Chinese Trawlers Of Destructive Fishing
By Francis Tim Mbom
Photo: Limbe fishing boat
Local fishermen in Limbe have been having a rough time with Chinese trawlers which they claim are fishing destructively.
To them, this practice would soon deplete the fish in the waters and run them (fishermen) out of business.The President of the Beninese Fishermen, Pascal Vito speaking to The Post earlier last August had this to say: "They come and fish right on the shores which is reserved for us who use hand paddled canoes to fish."
Other local fishermen who talked to The Post said the Chinese just rake up every marine creature in their path as they cruise along.They complained that the Chinese use a twin-fishing trawler system with a single net tugged between two trawlers. As the trawlers positioned about 100 or more meters apart cruise along, anything in their path is caught in the net.
The disgruntled fishermen held that operators of the trawlers had threatened to shoot them whenever they confront them in the seas on account of their nets or canoes having been destroyed by the trawlers.
Some hold that if such a practice continues, Cameroon risks having no fish in its waters in the next five years or so. Others told The Post that the trawlers have made it difficult for many of them to fish and they were considering abandoning the fish trade for something else.
The fishermen also accuse the proprietor of FIFFA Bank Ltd, Gabriel Dima, of owning the destructive Chinese trawlers. But Dima refutes the allegations."We are financiers. We are not fishermen," Dima said. "I am not the one. The company involved is based in Douala and not here in Limbe. The person in charge is Andela Zogo. Don´t mind what people are saying, it is simply because I am here in Limbe," Dima added.
This refutation notwithstanding, the fishermen stick to their argument that Dima is the one who owns the trawlers that have been fishing discriminately along the Limbe coastline for over a year now.
According to the Fako Divisional Delegate of Fisheries, Livestock and Animal Industry, Dr. Cecilia Chiawah née Mungo, regulation requires that the trawlers limit themselves to three nautical miles into the ocean.
Dr. Chiawah had insisted that such indiscriminate fishing methods carried out by the Chinese trawlers could lead to very poor fish production.