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Disaggregating illegal fishing losses for the 22 countries of the West African Coast


The 22 countries of the Western African coast constitute one of the world’s most vulnerable regions for illegal fishing. Much is known about the region’s losses to illegal fishing, but less about the losses experienced by the region’s individual countries when compared in relation to each other. Guided by environmental criminology, these losses are examined in terms of lost protein and lost revenue. Seven of the countries suffer loss of protein. Chinese vessels are the most prevalent predators, fishing illegally in six of these countries. Only three of the 22 countries suffer loss of revenue, most of which is lost to vessels from other West African countries. Guinea and Guinea Bissau experience both problems. Only a handful of countries suffer disproportionately more than the rest of the countries in the region. Country-specific policy solutions should be devised to address the problems in these vulnerable target countries.

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  1. Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo.

  2. MRAG (2010)’s study of illegal fishing in eight countries (Cape Verde, the Gambia, Guinea, Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone) that used FAO methodology followed the steps of an environmental criminology assessment.

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Correspondence to Gohar A. Petrossian.

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Petrossian, G.A., Clarke, R.V. Disaggregating illegal fishing losses for the 22 countries of the West African Coast. Maritime Studies 19, 445–455 (2020).

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  • West Africa
  • Illegal fishing
  • Environmental criminology
  • Sea Around Us Project
  • Fishing access agreements
  • Crime prevention
  • Harm to artisanal fisheries