A fatal stabbing sends a Gambian fishing village into turmoil over fishmeal

Residents of the Gambian coastal town of Sanyang say life has gotten harder since a fishmeal plant set up production in 2017. Growing tensions over unresolved disputes with the factory reached a flashpoint on March 15, when hundreds of people took to the streets in protest. Some of the protesters set trucks and tires ablaze and destroyed a score of fishing boats and thousands of fishing nets. The destruction escalated into the torching of Sanyang’s police station, along with the fishmeal factory, run by Chinese-owned Nessim Trading. The trigger for the unrest was the stabbing death of 33-year-old Sanyang resident Gibril Ceesay on March 14. A Senegalese national who reportedly worked at the Nessim factory allegedly broke into Ceesay’s home at night with the intention of stealing, killing Ceesay and seriously wounding his brother. “We are protesting in Sanyang because of so many reasons,” Muhammed Jabang, 22, told Mongabay. “If not because of the fishmeal factory, he [the alleged perpetrator] wouldn’t have been in Sanyang,” said Jabang, who attended the protest but said he was not involved in damaging property. “The situation of the fishmeal factory is a concern for everyone. Fishmeal is taking lots of fish to feed animals, leaving locals without fish for protein,” he added. The Nessim fishmeal factory in Sanyang. Image by Mustapha Manneh. The fishmeal industry has boomed in West Africa in recent years, targeting the same small pelagic fish, predominantly bonga (Ethmalosa fimbriata) and round and flat sardinella (Sardinella aurita and S. maderensis), that…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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