Women play an important role in the fishing communities of Guinea, West Africa. Though they do not go to sea, they organize the trading of fish, as seen here in the market of the capital city, Conakry. Guinea has the largest and richest continental shelf in West Africa. The fishery supports some 70,000 livelihoods directly and provides half the country’s dietary protein. Largely artisanal, it relies on locally constructed wooden pirogues (open boats) working within the 12-mile limit of territorial waters. But illegal ‘pirate’ fishing on an industrial scale – by fleets from Europe and China in particular, many of them operating out of Las Palmas in the Canary Islands – threatens to destroy the entire fishery. In 2000, in one zone around the fishing village of Bongolon, 450 illegal incursions were recorded. Community patrols succeeded in reducing the incursions to just 56 in the first six months of 2002. But the threat remains active, as a recent joint investigation by Greenpeace and the Environmental Justice Foundation revealed.
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