7 November 2012

Senegal: Greenpeace Calls for an Immediate Investigation Into the Dead Marine Life in the Senegalese Territorial Waters

press release

Greenpeace calls on the Senegalese government to immediately investigate the causes of dead animal species within its waters, which have occurred in the past few weeks. This follows a research by Greenpeace's team that confirmed local fishermen's reports of deaths of fish, marine mammals and sea turtles on many beaches across the country. According to several reports, this phenomenon emerged in early September and is affecting the entire coastline of Senegal from the Casamance up to Kayar.

To date, Greenpeace has documented the death of two whales (on September 14 and 22 respectively at Kayar and Rufisque), two turtles (October 3 at Yoff) and an impressive amount of fish (during October in the south of the country).

"This worrying and unusual situation in Senegalese waters needs to be addressed with urgent concerted action by the Ministries of Ecology and Sustainable Development, Energy and Mining, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs as well as the fishing communities by identifying its causes in order to preserve fisheries already badly affected by overfishing, " said Ahmed Diamé, Greenpeace Africa's Oceans campaigner.

According to Greenpeace's investigations, these observations coincided with the start of oil exploration activities, in the south along the border between Senegal and Guinea-Bissau by the petroleum company, ORYX.

"At this point, no direct link has been established between these incidents. However, some technologies such as seismic method, used in this kind of exploration are known for their very harmful impacts on the echolocation systems of marine mammals," continued Diamé.

"Powerful seismic waves could cause disturbance to whales, turtles and fish and make them stray away from their favorable habitat, disrupt their reproductive cycles, and might result in hearing loss and potentially death. This needs to be urgently investigated, if there is any link to the recent dying of marine life," concluded Diamé.

Greenpeace reminds Senegal's government of the importance of healthy fisheries, which are sources of employment and food security for millions of people and urges them to take all the necessary measures to clarify this ecological disaster.

Greenpeace also calls for the creation of a network of marine reserves in the Senegalese Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as a tool of protection and conservation.

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