Sierra Leone sells valuable beach to build China-funded fishing port
A colleague, Brima Bockarie, recounts Sesay’s fears. “This is where most of us live, and we don’t know what kind of development the Chinese want to bring,” he said.
Rumors of a fishmeal factory
Fishmeal factories, which grind locally caught fish into a powder that is exported to feed farmed fish and other animals around the world, is a growing problem in West Africa. Industrial fishing used to catch the volumes needed to supply factories is decimating fish populations, leaving fewer fish for local fishermen, who have to go further out to sea to fish less and less. Factories in neighboring countries have been linked to pollution of land and oceans.
Most of these factories are Chinese owned, but Spain, Turkey and other countries are also involved.
For Black Johnson, the fear was that an industrial “toxic” fishmeal factory would destroy fish stocks. During the dry season, part of the land in question is a lagoon, which serves as a breeding and nursery area for the growth of fish before moving out to sea.
But Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Emma Kowa Jalloh refuted the claims in her press release. “The ministry has read reports on social media regarding a fish factory to be located in the community of Black Johnson… The ministry wants the general public to know that the facility to be built is a fishing port and not a fish factory. fish as shown on social media. writers. “
Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone economic and trade adviser Du Zijun said the government of Sierra Leone has asked the Chinese government to help build the port. “The Chinese side will decide on the establishment and implementation of the project once the Sierra Leonean side has completed its relevant work,” Du said.
Chinese-language sources provide more details on the deal. They show the intention to build an industrial fishing port connected to the fisheries supply chain in West Africa, rather than a secret plan to build fishmeal factories.
Jiaodong.net, a news portal for China’s Shandong Province, the central fisheries, shows that the port is one of the projects supported by China under the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation. The Yantai Development Zone Fishing Port Development Co Ltd will participate in the construction of the port through a joint venture with the Government of Sierra Leone and the China Railway International Group. It will invest 320 million yuan ($ 50 million) to build a “sea fishing base abroad through the development of international investment, international transit and re-export trade.”
Jalloh said the government of Sierra Leone has been “aspiring” for a fishing port since the 1970s, but has been unable to do so due to the huge amount of money needed.
Most of the industrial fishing catch in Sierra Leone is frozen on vessels and transferred to larger refrigerated vessels for export. However, a dedicated fishing port in the country would provide industrial-scale processing facilities to serve Sierra Leone’s large and growing domestic market and to export fresh fish, shrimp and cephalopods via enhanced air links, China Business Network reported.
Jalloh added that the port would not only generate income and create jobs, but also build local capacity for ship repair and maintenance.
Du from the Chinese Embassy said the project would help promote the development of Sierra Leone’s own fishing sector.
SeafareChina, a Chinese media outlet, said: “[The port] increase Sierra Leone’s national fishery resources and strengthen its export capacity to the international market. Fishing port facilities will include waste management systems that can recycle marine litter and other wastes into useful products. “
The need for transparency
Dr Banya remains skeptical. “Do I remind all those who support such a proposal the disastrous environmental impact on our country, especially tourism and the very fishing industry it is supposed to support?
The government is expected to provide the results of a feasibility study, which explains the potential impact of the project on the environment, he added.
His views are echoed by two human rights organizations, the Institute for Legal and Advocacy for Justice and Namati Sierra Leone. In a joint press release, they called on the government to produce environmental and social impact assessment studies and the evidence upon which Black Johnson was assessed as the most suitable location.