In Senegal, a new offshore gas terminal, located in the Atlantic Ocean about ten kilometers from Saint-Louis, is beginning to unsettle fishermen who lament the loss of an area rich in fish.
A new danger may lurk on the horizon. At least, that is what the Senegalese fishermen fear. The new offshore gas terminal visible through the morning mist blanketing the Atlantic Ocean, where Senegal meets Mauritania, is the threat.
The launch of gas production is expected to start next year. As it draws closer, the general secretary of the fishermen’s union prepares for the worst; that is, the cessation of any fishing activity in the area.
“Cohabitation is impossible. Once gas extraction begins, it will mean death for the Saint-Louis fishing sector,” Moustapha Dieng predicts.
“Saint-Louis is the capital of fishing, if you take into account the number of boats in Saint-Louis, the types of fishing that are found in Saint-Louis, do not exist anywhere else.”
“However, the fishing area is very small, it is practically between the mouth of the river and the border with Mauritania where there are coast guards who have already killed 19 fishermen because they forbid them access to its waters,” laments Dieng.
Lately, seafarers have seen their catches decrease. The authorities intensified control over the marine platform and a security perimeter has been established to the great annoyance of the fishermen who assure that the area is precisely where most of the fish is found.
The gas project has also drawn criticism from environmental groups.
“No one can deny that the exploitation of resources has had and will continue to have an impact on our environment,” analyzes Pape Fara Diallo.
“There will also be social impacts and when you see the communities that live next door where the resources will be exploited, especially here in Nguet Ndar (ed: fishing village of Saint-Louis)”, the president of the National Publish What You Pay Coalition adds.
“We feel that people are worried, we see the discrepancy between the billions that we are told will come from offshore gas extraction and the poverty that you see all around you.”
Senegal’s gas discoveries represent 0.5% of world reserves.
But Energy and Oil Minister Sophie Gladima said “they were important enough to radically change the nation’s economy and industrial fabric, and therefore its future prospects.”
He highlighted the necessary legal framework to bring thousands of Senegalese jobs to the sector and the creation of the National Oil and Gas Institute to generate a highly qualified workforce.
But the fishermen say they are being left out of the future planned by the state.
“Not being the biggest polluters as we are not industrialized, it would be unfair in the search for a solution (to global warming) to ban Africa from using the natural resources that are underground,” Sall told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in May. .
The director of Greenpeace Africa’s ocean campaign, Aliou Ba, stressed that the exploitation of fossil fuel deposits will further “exacerbate” the climate crisis, and efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius seem increasingly more desperate.
Francois Gemenne, an expert at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said: “What is at stake is that these countries can and do choose a decarbonised economy.
“And that requires technology transfer and investment in renewable energy, which is still lacking in general.”
Pre-COP27 talks held in Kinshasa in early October heard calls for alternative technologies and significant financing to sustain a green transition.