In pictures: Shark fishing hikes off the coast of Congo | Economic Affairs

Pointe-Noire, Republic of Congo – Due to the proliferation of industrial fishing offshore in Congo, artisanal fishermen have been focusing on shark fishing for their livelihood in recent years.

There are reports of shark fishermen on boats – narrow, like boats – in the 1980s but this phenomenon has increased dramatically in the last two decades, with human rights activists warning that the practice is becoming unstable.

Officials say the rise of the special shark fishery has been driven by a number of factors.

The construction of oil rigs along the coast has reduced the area where artisans can fish. The advent of industrial trawlers has created intense fishing competition. And the continued pursuit of shark fins in some parts of Asia may make shark fishing more profitable.

Shark fishermen go farther afield, cast their nets into the sea just before sunset and then catch the fish with bait and blood at night.

For days, large numbers of fish are dumped along the Songolo shore in Pointe-Noire district, where they are sold on the spot. Most are hammerhead, bigeye thresher, silky and mako sharks – all of which are endangered species.

Jean-Michel Dziengue, a Congolese staff member for the NGO NGO Bouée Couronne, said most of the sharks caught are young or young.

“This practice also affects all fish. In the markets, the fish are getting smaller. It is a sign that people are fishing in breeding grounds, ”he said.

According to a 2017 study by Traffic NGO, 95 percent of sharks caught in the Republic of the Congo (1,766,589 kg) come from pirogues of professional fishermen – accounting for one third of their catch per year.

Several species of sharks are being caught in the country, including seven listed in Article II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The increase in the number of pirogue killing sharks in Congo is mainly due to the rise of industrial fishing, according to Dziengue.

“First, fishing grounds were reduced by two-thirds due to the use of seawater. Then the ships of foreign companies expanded mainly after 2005 when they jumped from 24 to 70 in just a few years, and began fishing without limits even in the breeding grounds. Skilled fishermen were gradually pushed into the corner, ”he said.

According to Traffic, in the coastal region where more than 30 permits must be issued for corporate vessels, as 110 ships were sailing in 2018. That number has fallen to about 80 ships, according to Congolese officials.

Dziengue said government officials have no plans to enforce the ban on overfishing with factory trawlers. “The authorities have only one guard boat on the entire coast,” he said.

According to the latest learning published by Current Biology, one third of the world’s shark and ray species are at risk of extinction due to overfishing and the number of sharks and rays facing the “global extinction problem” has more than doubled ‘ten years.

Senegalese shark scientist Mika Samba Diop told Al Jazeera that sharks were disappearing from the African mainland.

“Sharks are a ‘symbol’ of marine ecosystems, they have a long life span but they are very weak. When they fish too much, serious damage occurs,” he said.

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