The virus crisis for Senegal's fishing industry

In Senegal, the West African former French colony, the fishing industry plays a major social and economic role. While it is a key provider of protein for the population, it is also a major sector for exports, employing around 600,000 people, representing 17% of the country’s labour force.   

With the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the dive in air traffic, fish exports have plummeted, while emergency measures imposed to contain the spread of the virus, including a night-time curfew, add further to the crisis.

This photo reportage in the port of Hann, one of Senegal’s biggest fish auction sites, situated on the outskirts of the capital Dakar, was led over two days in mid-April, shortly before the start of the Ramadan in this majority Muslim country. The port is normally bustling with activity and a constant toing and froing of ocean-going pirogues, the largest of which can spend weeks trawling the Atlantic.

But already, the fishermen and wholesalers were facing a severe downturn in business, when even the most coveted fish, normally reserved for the Asian and European markets, were selling at knock-down prices on local markets.

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  1. Hann, April 18th 2020: In normal times, around ten large fishing pirogues would be lined up here to drop off their catches at the Hann port’s vast quaysides of fish markets and export wholesalers. But since the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, the plants that process and package the catches for export to Europe and Asia have temporarily closed down.

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