Environmental problems in Senegal

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Artisanal pirogue with local fishermen passing Spanish trawler in their fishing grounds. Senegal.
© WWF-Canon / Jo BENN

Fished out and running dry

The powerful coastal currents off Senegal’s coast are feeding not only huge quantities of fish, but also the huge consumption needs of European fishing fleets. On dry land, the future of many forest and savanna areas hangs in balance. What is going on?
Overfishing and destructive fishing

Access agreements between Senegal and foreign countries bring much needed income, but they also put unsustainable pressures on limited fish stocks, leading to conflicts between local and foreign fleets.

With more and more boats searching for fewer and fewer fish, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of destructive, habitat-destroying fishing techniques like dynamite, bottom trawling, and beach seining.

The increased fishing has also led to increased capture of endangered marine turtles, juvenile fish, and a massive expansion of the trade in shark and ray fins.
What is WWF doing? / ©: WWF
What is WWF doing?
© WWF
Overgrazing and unsustainable range management

Let too much cattle graze for too long and there are high chances that overgrazing will occur, a process where plants are consumed so intensively that they are unable to recover.

In Senegal as elsewhere, this can cause desertification and erosion. Overgrazing is also considered to be a cause of the expansion of non-native plants.
Illegal and unsustainable deforestation

Deforestation is mostly caused by growing demand for fuel woods, as a result of population growth and a reduction of income from agriculture. Forest fires and water-driven soil erosion further aggravate the problem. Deforestation as a result of forest fires is also creating carbon emissions, which contribute to global warming.
Pollution

Waste from industries such as fish processing, textile, pharmaceutical, painting, and food processing is often discharged untreated into the sea or in open sites. Tourism facilities such as hotels also discharge pollutants while intensive agriculture, which relies on fertilizers, is resulting in polluted water run-off.
Inappropriate agriculture practices

The process of shifting agriculture from one area to another is promoting desertification. One example is the cultivation of peanuts, a major export of Senegal, which leads to major losses in soil fertility. As a result, farmers need to open new land for cultivation and have moved from the northern coastal area to inland areas. The used-up land is no longer fertile and has contributed to desertification.

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