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Dirty fishmeal production in Nouadhibou, Mauritania


Description:

The wind is always blowing in the city of Nouadhibou, which today is laced with toxic particles and the putrid smell of fish meal production. Nouadhibou sits on the edge of the Atlantic and has a population of nearly 120,000 people, many of which have become greatly disturbed by the growth of enterprises producing farine du poisson (eng. fishmeal) or locally known as MOKA in the city. The city hosts a busy port that exports a number of Mauritania’s minerals and natural resources extracted from the interior. Well connected by railways and roads, this port city’s wharf was reconstructed in 2011 to extend to its current length of 122,000 square meters. Yet, while the loading and export of up to 320,000 tons of cargo occurs daily on the wharf, only one commodity has developed into a conflict amongst the population of Nouadhibou: fishmeal (MOKA). 

Since the government opened more than 30 contracts for fishmeal production in 2010, the numbers of fishmeal factories have increased from six to twenty-three [1], with a concurrent 282% increase in tons of fishmeal production between 2010 and 2013 [3]. Currently, in Nouadhibou there are 32 registered processing plants (according to the EC data corresponding to April 2018) [15].

With most of the activity situated in the northern-most part of the city, residents complain of chronic illnesses and suffocation due to the pollution from the production. The accompanying deplorable health and sanitation conditions have provided cause for alarm by the local population. Residents have demanded that the government intervene to impose limits on industrial pollution [1]. Despite laws in place to protect health and sanitation since 2012 [4], companies are not forced to comply. Doctors state that the factories have resulted in an increase in asthma, allergies, and respiratory infections, particularly amongst children [1].

Indeed, the toxic waste thrown into the ocean has transformed a highly frequented coastal zone into a sewage area [1, see photos]. The production of fishmeal usually requires a greater amount of live fish per one ton of fishmeal produced. Waste and effluent from the fishmeal production is emptied directly into the bay, causing some to mention an overall change in the color of the water as well as depleted fish stocks and putrid odors [3]. Moreover, particulate matter in the air is said to contain carcinogenic components [3].

The government’s original intent was to establish industry around the less-exploited coastal species, including some that are highly important to low income consumers, such as sardines. Along with the loss of fish, local residents state that constructing the fishmeal production industry in the city of Nouadhibou and not on the periphery was a gross error that has destroyed the unique coastal attractions of the city, but also heavily polluted the water and air. Activist and president of l'Organisation pour la Promotion de la famille et pour la Défense de l'Environnement, Sid Mohamed Ouelt Mohamed Cheikh has launched a campaign against the fishmeal companies, to force the government to protect the communities. In turn, inhabitants of the Kansadou neighbourhood have organized protests against the neighboring Asnim fishmeal enterprise. Al Mokhtar Ouelt Salem is a lawyer working on the case. He believes that it will be possible to bring the case to court and prosecute the companies.  On January 12, 2017, nearly a thousand protesters gathered at the Hotel Eljazira, followed by a march through the center of Nouadhibou. Their slogan read, in English, "Stop Pollution Nouadhibou!"

In light of numerous studies and a large number of complaints about chronic sickness and asthmatic disorders, the authorities of Nouadhibou became obligated to proceed to the closing of a great number of enterprises [5]. In November 2017, all of the factories specializing in fishmeal production were closed temporarily to be inspected. "The Free Zone, in cooperation with the Minister of Fisheries, have organized a committee in charge of carrying out an inquiry into the activities of fishmeal factories, with the goal of only permitting operation to those that are in compliance with the norms and specification described in the rulebooks." declared Mohammed Ould Ould Daff [7].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Dirty fishmeal production in Nouadhibou, Mauritania
Country:Mauritania
State or province:Dahklet Nouadhibou
Location of conflict:Nouadhibou
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Aquaculture and fisheries
Specific commodities:Manufactured Products
Fish

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Based on a report from 2012, Nouadhibou was producing approximately 64,000 tons of fishmeal per year, accounting for only five factories of fishmeal production [11]. Today, with nearly 23 factories in Nouadhibou, the tonnage is likely much higher. The majority of fishmeal is exported to Russia, with some going to Ghana, Morocco, Sudan, Portugal, and other countries. The fishing industry represents about 55,000 jobs in Mauritania, with possibly 90% of these jobs stemming from artisanal fishing [9]. But, the number of artisanal fishers is decreasing, in light of the pressure of industrial fishing on the resource base. The exports of fish products are estimated at 49% of total exports, amounting to 507 millions of USD in 2017 [9].

Level of Investment:507,000,000
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:120,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/2017
Company names or state enterprises:Rim Fish Meal from Mauritania
Aussie Group SARL from Mauritania
Profifish Atlantic from United States of America
Alfa Service LTD from Mauritania
SOMASEP from Spain
OMAURCI SA
Somaesp S.A.R.L
MAH EL TURK Sarl
XIANGHESHUN-MAURITANIE SA
FARO FARINE
LEMSEAFOOD
Atyfen
SINO- RIM
SAHEL PROTEINE
AFRICA PROTEINE
Mauritania FISHMEAL SARL
CONTINENTAL SEA FOOD SA
MMOA PECHE FARINE ET HUILE
SF HP Sarl
AFRICA PECHE
OCEAN PROTEINE
ATLANTIC PROTEINE
COMAPECHE
MOUHIT AL BARAKA
ATLANTIC PECHE
SICOP Industries Sa
HONGDONG INTERNATIONAL FISHERY DEVELOPMENT FARINE ET HUILE
WINTERISATION MAURITANIA Sarl
COFRIMA PROTEINE Sarl
M.C.F Sarl
SOREC. SA
SEPP. SA
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Fisheries
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:l’Organisation pour la Promotion de la famille et pour la Défense de l’Environnement,
Greenpeace

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Women
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents
Other Health impactsAt least 187 women have had problems during their pregnancy on January 2017, which are considered to be linked with the contamination caused by fishmeal production factories. [6]
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Land dispossession

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Institutional changes
Negotiated alternative solution
New legislation
Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:Local small-scale fisher people aim the protection of their fishing rights, and compensation from vessels of industrial fishing that violate their fishing rights in coastal zones. Meanwhile, they demand a strict control of fishmeal factories so that they comply with established regulations.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:While the government responded to the protests from the people, it is not clear whether all fishmeal production is still complying with the regulations and has, in fact cleaned up the operations.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[14] DAI Europe. 2015. Etude sur l’évolution des pêcheries de petits pélagiques en Afrique du Nord-Ouest et impacts possibles sur la nutrition et la sécurité alimentaire en Afrique de l’Ouest Rapport final.
http://www.cofish.org/documents/167/Final_Report.pdf

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[6] Jan 18 2017 Le Moka fait des ravages parmi la population de Nouadhibou
https://lauthentic.info/Actualites/Culture/article/Le-Moka-fait-des-ravages-parmi-la-population-de-Nouadhibou

[10] 13-01-17 10:04 - NOUADHIBOU : MOKA, LE YEN A MARRE DES POPULATIONS
http://nations-info.com/en_article.php?id=5

[15] List of registered fish processing plants in Nouadhibou according to the European Commission data (27 April, 2018)
https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/sanco/traces/output/MR/ABP-FSB_MR_en.pdf

[1] Karkoub 2017. La malédiction de l’industrie des farines de poisson à Nouadhibou. Dune Voices.
http://dune-voices.info/public/index.php/fr/francais/item/1341-la-mal%C3%A9diction-de-l%E2%80%99industrie-des-farines-de-poisson-%C3%A0-nouadhibou

[5] Jan 2017 La malédiction de l’industrie des farines de poisson à Nouadhibou
http://cridem.org/C_Info.php?article=693730

[9] Mauritanie : l’Etat étouffe la pêche locale au profit des étrangers
https://kassataya.com/2018/01/13/mauritanie-letat-etouffe-peche-locale-profit-etrangers/

[4] Décret n°2012-072 du 12 Mars 2012. Ministère des Pêches et de l’Economie Maritime
http://extwprlegs1.fao.org/docs/pdf/mau140721.pdf

[3] Ahmed Ould Cheikh. Usines de farine de poisson à Nouadhibou : Danger sur la ville. Le Calame
http://lecalame.info/?q=node%2F3548

[7] Nov 2017 FERMETURE DES USINES MOKA À NOUADHIBOU
http://adrar-info.net/?p=43119

[2] Standing 2017. Croissance De La Production De Farine De Poisson En Mauritanie: Implications Pour La Sécurité Alimentaire Régionale. CFFA-CAPE
https://cape-cffa.squarespace.com/blog-en-francais/2017/3/21/croissance-de-la-production-de-farine-de-poisson-en-mauritanie-implications-pour-la-scurit-alimentaire-rgionale

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[12] Video: Farine du poisson 12
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoeoC68oi3M

[13] Facebook Page: MOKA Met Nouadhibou en danger
https://www.facebook.com/MOCANDB/

[11] Presentation on fishmeal production
http://docplayer.fr/40147999-Etude-diagnostique-de-la-filiere-de-la-farine-et-de-l-huile-de-poisson-en-mauritanie-et-au-niveau-international.html

[8] Etude diagnostique de la filière de la farine et de l’huile de poisson en Mauritanie et au niveau et international
http://www.spcsrp.org/sites/default/files/csrp/projets/pelagics/RapNat/Mau/Etude_diagnostique_filiere_farine_huile_poisson.pdf

Other documents

Fish Waste Fish waste piled on beach in Nouadhibou (Dune Voices)
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Fish_Waste_Dune_Voices_Jan_2017.jpg

Fish Waste 2 Man observing the fish waste on Nouadhibou's coastline (Dune Voices Jan 2017)
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Man_observing_waste_dune_voice_Jan_2017.jpg

Trawlers in Mauritania Trawler hauling out fish in Mauritanian waters
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/peche_indusrielle.jpg

Protest MOKA Nouadhibou More than 1,000 people protested the fishmeal production in Jan 2017.
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Protest_MOKA_Jan_2017__Nations-Info_.jpg

Fishmeal Factory Processing fish at fishmeal factory in nouadhibou. Cape-CFFA.
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Photo__Cape-CFFA_.jpeg

Nouadhibou and Parc National Banc d'Arguin The protected area is just south of Nouadhbou
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/284px-Bancdarguin_map_lg.jpg

Other comments:There are many sources in Arabic, which I am not able to read.

Meta information

Contributor:Julie Snorek, [email protected]
Last update14/05/2018

Images

 

Fish Waste

Fish waste piled on beach in Nouadhibou (Dune Voices)

Fish Waste 2

Man observing the fish waste on Nouadhibou's coastline (Dune Voices Jan 2017)

Trawlers in Mauritania

Trawler hauling out fish in Mauritanian waters

Protest MOKA Nouadhibou

More than 1,000 people protested the fishmeal production in Jan 2017.

Nouadhibou and Parc National Banc d'Arguin

The protected area is just south of Nouadhbou

Fishmeal Factory

Processing fish at fishmeal factory in nouadhibou. Cape-CFFA.