Net loss: Virus hammers Senegal’s fish exporters

Agence France-Presse
Net loss: Virus hammers Senegal’s fish exporters
Senegal's fishing industry is one of its largest, but exporters are hit hard by the coronavirus

DAKAR, Senegal – On a usually bustling wharf in Senegal’s capital Dakar, a young fishmonger named Galaye Sarr asks God to lift the “curse” of the coronavirus.

He and thousands of others in the poor West African country are suffering the effects of coronavirus restrictions on the lucrative fish trade. 

Senegal’s fishing industry is one of its largest, employing around 53,000 people directly and over half a million people indirectly, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 

Fish is also one of the country’s top export earners, with Europe – its economy now slammed by the coronavirus pandemic – one of its principal markets.  

Senegal has announced an anti-virus dusk-to-dawn curfew to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which along with flight restrictions and blow to European demand, has hit fish exporters hard. 

“Now we sell less, in less time,” said Sarr, 23, adding that the local markets were already saturated and prices were down. 

Ordinarily, Sarr would buy catches from fishers who ply the Atlantic in multicolored boats, known as pirogues. 

He would then sell the fish on to processing plants, which package the product for export.

Sarr points to piles of refrigerated containers in a cold-storage room by the wharf. 

“We’re living through an ordeal here. Everybody is sitting around, we don’t have anything to work with,” he said. 

“Maybe one day God will lift this curse,” Sarr said, referring to the virus. –

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