West African, US and European navies aim to stop illegal fishing – American and European navies collaborated with eight West African countries to conduct joint training operations aimed at combating illegal fishing off the West African coast. The drills, which included a staged hostage crisis, took place in the Gulf of Guinea and were part of the US military’s long-running Flintlock program.
Unreported and unregulated fishing has become prevalent along West Africa’s coasts, with estimates suggesting that it amounts to around $9.4bn annually. This practice has resulted in local fishermen and fish lovers in places like Senegal’s capital, Dakar, suffering as foreign industrial-size trawlers scoop up large numbers of fish, primarily shipping them to European and Asian markets. International agencies working to stop “illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing” have expressed difficulty in assessing the amount of fish being poached due to the clandestine nature of the practice. Environmental watchdog group Greenpeace has reported that some trawlers can scoop up as much as 250 tons of fish per day, which empties coastal areas.
The joint training operations were carried out to help coastal nations in the region cope with maritime threats, including piracy and illegal fishing. Admiral Milton Sands, commander of the US Special Operations Command for Africa, highlighted unauthorized fishing as a significant issue that they are working to slow down in collaboration with partners. Around 350 troops participated in the drills, including servicemen from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea, which has become a global piracy hotspot in recent years, although cases have fallen since 2021, according to the UN Security Council.
West African, US and European navies aim to stop illegal fishing