FishNet Alliance General Assembly and Conference Declaration (10th August 2023, St Louis, Senegal)
The scramble for Africa is once more very visible and evident, just by looking at the rate at which Europe and America are pushing for gas exploitation in the continent in countries such as Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, Mauritania, South Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Morocco, where huge reserves have been found. These discoveries are in sensitive environments that host very important ecosystems – most of which are aquatic environments.
Communities where oil and gas are exploited bear the brunt of the aggressive assault that the activities bring. The exploitation of the fossil fuel resources always bring untold hardship on communities including health challenges, livelihood losses, environmental degradation, and the loss of the sense of wellbeing that the communities had always enjoyed hitherto.
In addition to fossil fuels exploitation projects, fisher folks’ communities are affected by the construction of dams. Those constructions lead to displacement and the destruction of the communities’ livelihoods. They also destroy the aquatic ecosystem leaving fishermen in the lurch.
FishNet Alliance in Collaboration with member organizations of Oilwatch Africa hosted the 5th FishNet Alliance General Assembly and conference in Saint Loius, Senegal on 10th August 2023. Participants were drawn from 10 African countries, namely: Chad, DRC, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania, Togo, Swaziland, Cote D’Ivoire and Nigeria.
The meeting was preceded by field visits to Khar-Yallah and Goxou Mbac. These communities are important because, while Khar-Yallah hosted climate refugees – displaced by flooding in their “original” communities (and with no hopes of where to go from there), Goxou Mbac hosts the area where the Senegalese and the Mauritania governments plan to exploit for gas. Their horrific living condition underscored the dire impacts of climate change on communities.
The General Assembly observed that:
- Exploitation and burning of crude oil and fossil gas contribute over 45% of the greenhouses driving climate crises and exposing communities to devastating impacts.
- The marine ecosystems support the livelihoods and cultures of fisher communities and these are disrupted by exploration and exploitation of fossil fuels and construction of huge dams;
- Extractivism in our water bodies and the region generally pose unique security threats.
- Pollution and concessions given to oil and gas companies are forms of sea grab
- Dams pose, great dangers to coastal communities and marine ecosystems, just like fossil fuels exploitation does.
- Workers on commercial fishing vessels are sometimes exposed to forced labour and are often in a struggle for life
- Commercial fishing driving overfishing, are poorly regulated and their products are mostly for export compounding the food challenges in the region.
After exhaustive deliberations, members and allies declared that:
- FishNet Alliance opposes the exploitation of our aquatic ecosystems through blue economy pursuits and remains irrevocably against the expansion of fossil fuels extraction in our continent.
- We are in solidarity with fishers and community people who have been displaced Senegal, including those at Khar-Yallah and elsewhere in Africa;
- We are totally against any plan to displace and relocate fishers as a result of oil and gas prospecting and exploitation projects
- We condemn the building of dams without FPIC of communities and others that would be impacted.
- All fishing activities by commercial fishing vessels on our continental shelf should be halted.
- Multilateral banks and institutions should stop funding fossil fuels project in Africa and rather support a rapid transition to renewable energy provision.
- FishNet Alliance condemns all manifestations of exploitation, colonialism and racism expressed in the pursuit of fossil fuel resources and big infrastructure in our water bodies and coastlines.