BUBAQUE, Guinea-Bissau – As the fishing industry off the coast of West Africa yields little profit for fishermen, some are turning to drug smuggling and human trafficking to compensate for their losses. With fuel prices high and roads too poor to transport fish into West Africa’s interior, the industry is becoming both less practical and less profitable.
An article from the United Nations’ Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reports that although the fishing industry supplies Guinea-Bissau with almost half of its annual revenue, it receives only five percent of the government’s already inadequate budget.
The combination of poverty, lack of management, and geography makes the region ideal for illegal activity. Linked to the decline of the fishing industry, islands such as Bissau and the Bijagos are becoming a hub for the flow of illegal drugs and human traffic from Latin America to Europe.
“This area is difficult for police to control because of its geographical configuration which makes it a place from which drugs can be transported relatively safely,” reports Mody Ndiaye, special adviser at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Guinea Bissau.
“If you want fast money and are willing to take the risk, that’s the only way to get it,” says Abdullah Dieng, a fisherman from Bissau. According to the UNODC, hundreds of kilograms of of cocaine make it through the region every week.
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