Over half a million tonnes of fish used to produce fish meal and fish oil exported from West Africa to Europe and Asia could feed some 33 million people instead, Greenpeace says in report.

Fish meal is made in factories dotted along the West African coast, and is predominantly sold as feed for fish farms in the developed world.
Fish meal is made in factories dotted along the West African coast, and is predominantly sold as feed for fish farms in the developed world. (Reuters Archive)

Rising exports of fish meal and fish oil from West Africa to Europe and Asia are depriving millions of Africans of food, Greenpeace said.

In a report on Tuesday, the environmental group said that over half a million tonnes of fish used to produce fish meal and fish oil in the poor region could feed some 33 million people instead.

Fish meal is made in factories dotted along the West African coast, and is predominantly sold as feed for fish farms in the developed world. 

Fish oil serves a similar purpose.

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Overexploited industry 

Much of West Africa's fishing grounds are already overexploited and illegal fishing is a persistent problem.

Greenpeace said West Africa's trade in fish meal and fish oil had grown tenfold between 2010 and 2019 – from about 13,000 tonnes to over 170,000 tonnes.

Most fish oil and meal is exported to Europe and Asia.

Phase out fish oil, meal production

The report cited "severe consequences for local populations", explaining that the industry undermined food security across Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Mali and Burkina Faso.

The main species used in the industry are small fish such as sardinella and bonga, which Greenpeace said constitute a vital source of animal protein for many in the region.

The group recommended that governments phase out fish oil and meal production from fish fit for human consumption, among other measures.

READ MORE: Ghana bans fishing to rebuild stocks

Source: AFP