The Great China Debate – Golden Lead or Bust

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Dear Editor,


Disturbing revelations has emerged on Chinese trawlers engaged in illegal fishing activity right deep in Gambian territorial waters. The vast majority of boats identified are found to be using ‘bottom trawling’ – an extremely destructive form of fishing which catches anything & everything on its path, illegal under Gambian law, and UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).


It came as no surprise that the reason(s) for depletion of fish stock right across the South-China Sea came to a much-maligned habit violating the territorial integrity of Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and every other country it’s found – is the sort of abuse replicated in Gambia and West Africa’s territorial waters by agents of the Chinese state The deployment of tight fishing net-types whilst ramming through the seabed destroying undersea marine life is the primary cause of concern – as dead fish wash up the coastline, littering pristine scenery.


By all accounts, 2018 has turned out to be the great China debate on Gambia’s coastal communities mobilised against Golden Lead. Mr president, local people are crying foul, yet the administration answered with a cold shoulder, indifferent to the overwhelming crime scene. Mounting evidence has piled up backed by toxicology results from reputable sources; how outrageous then government is tight-lipped on a critical environmental catastrophe – exposing Gambia’s economic security to risk.


Pro-environmental campaign group #Greenpeace, has highlighted China’s distant water fishing industry is now the largest in West Africa, operating more than 400 fleet. China’s own Agriculture ministry puts that they produce £340 million each year, thou I suspect the true figure to be double that several times over. In 2015, #Greenpeace further exposed 74 Chinese vessels in prohibited waters falsifying their vessel tonnage, but for a regional naval force with no such technology to police & command the high Sea. As a matter of urgency, the Gambia navy has to advance for expert divers to peek right deep through the sea bed size up the damage & destruction these trawlers are doing in territorial waters.



Home or abroad, Gambians all the time are known for restraint, extend a helping hand to complete strangers – yes, the Gambian way.  The government better start waking up smell the coffee – for I refuse to be colonised twice. Near and far, the public stood united sending a declaration to the people of Gunjur town, fraternise on the issue. If #NewGambia is to mean anything, how then a member of parliament is to turn against his constituency for a little less profit of an arrogant ‘Golden lead’ causing much injury to an entire coastal region – the sad case of Kebba K Barrow!


According to maritime estimates, over 70% of China’s boats in Africa are harvesting the Seas off the Senegalese coast, Mauritania, Guinea Bissau, and the Gambia. A UN report also documents decades of intense exploitation of West Africa’s Seas by all states operating in the area, have resulted in over 50% of fishing resources overfished. Local communities are crying foul, but for a government muted on injustice – How outrageous the Gambia government dare punish the people of Gunjur, and Kartong or Faraba for standing up for ‘rights’ – all charges ought to be dropped if the justice system is to measure up credible!



The Minister for Fisheries, James FP Gomez, visiting Golden lead factory ought to be mindful, learn from history. Cruising through the seaside town calling protesters criminals has overstepped portfolio & an insult to those of us advocating national interest. Imagine then, hypothetically, the fate of a Gambian company operating in china engaged in criminal act – not only will it be closed-down never to see the light of day again, but a court case topped up by stringent financial penalties. How foolish then, ‘Golden Lead’ is let off the hook scot-free, raising a flag on prime beach location – adding salt to injury.

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Writing on #UKGambia social media, Tony Ceesay opined that, ‘the question to consider is production for exchange vs that for need. The former, he said, is based on the possibility of extracting maximum profit or value from production. The way profit is generated is to pay the minimum possible for the resources (fish) and the labour to obtain and transform it into fishmeal – as seen with the owners of Golden Lead making a fortune out of a helpless local community. The alternative, Ceesay points, is ‘Production for need, for a robust domestic industry; that Gambia reduce its food imports and a need for livestock and poultry food supplements. That could be financed through social formats where the widest possible number of local people have a stake in the company, i.e, Cooperatives, partnerships or Village Development Committees (VDCs)) rather than distant private shareholders without a clue what Gambia is all about. Production for need creates local employment that cannot be outsourced, open-up supply chains & unleash entrepreneurial drive – Plus, the money retained in the economy, stimulating economic growth.



The ‘Coalition government’ should embark on an industrial policy strategically designed in practical terms that enables local Gambians to be the main creators & owners of jobs and wealth for the economy. You’ve to wonder why China need to export such vast quantities of fish in exploitative manner, the true (economic) picture of which cannot be captured in dalasi terms. It is estimated that staff aboard a China Fujian Distant Water Fishing ship earn up to RMB300,000 (£35,000). Similarly, Western fishing trawlers are also at it, posing a significant challenge in Gambian waters – instark violation of sovereignty rules.


The Gambian people will soon come to the realisation that China’s new roads & donor cheques cannot develop the country. To compete and excel, and to ensure sustainability – requires critical thinking & vision from the political class & intellectuals alike. Let’s change the way we do politics, and to inject a little humility into the mix – facing up to demands and challenges expected of great 21st century leadership.


”Why degga degga, maan dayy waaruna chii ngurrbii” – showing contempt against its own for merely questioning callous behaviour. Where are Gambia’s ‘Health & Safety’ standards, or the guardians of it, in Environment Agency (NEA). If the government is incapable of action against ‘Golden Lead’, stuck in the pocket of their paymaster generals in Beijing, at least try fake it. That, they have gotten quite good at – accustomed to luxurious surroundings, counting all the way to the bank.


Gibril Saine

From: Fatu Network

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