By Yankuba Jallow
Fish was dumped in Kartong yesterday because the Gunjur and Kartong Fishing Committees following a dispute over the sale of fish that were caught at Kartong.
These two fishing centres are amongst the active and most active fishing centres in The Gambia. They are found in Kombo South District of the West Coast Region and they have a distance of about 8 km.
This quarrel came about when two trucks loaded with fish came from Kartong to the Gunjur Beach to sell them to the Golden Lead Company but the Gunjur Fishermen Committee intervened and served as obstacle to the process. The Gunjur Committee held that the Kartong Fishermen broke a covenant that they had signed earlier last year that there will no more be fishing at night. The agreement according to the Gunjur Committee was signed by the Fishing Communities of Kartong, Gunjur and Tanji in which they all accorded that there shall be no fishing at night and the signatories signed in the presence of some authorities as well as village heads (Alkalo).
Fish dumped by the Kartong fisherfolks
Adama Cham, the President of Gunjur Fishermen Association said they abnegated the Kartong Fishermen because the covenant they signed was violated by the ‘Kartong side’ and they have been breaking it several times and in all occasions they negotiated with them and allowed them to sale their fish. He added that the Committee noticed that the Kartong Fishermen want to take the negotiation process as a norm by repeatedly doing the things that are against the provisions of the covenant.
“We all agreed that fishing should start at 6am and we all signed the covenant” Cham Said.
The agreement according to the Gunjur Committee was further taken to the Ministry of Fisheries who appended their signature on the agreement. The Committee has a firm belief that formal agreements need to be rightly observed by all signatories and they all concurred on penal procedure in case any party breaches the agreement.
The Committee further restated that the agreement was signed in order to reduce the trend of over fishing that may bring adverse effect to the fishing sector. They reiterated that fish in the rainy season reproduce many offspring that also increase the number of fish in the seas and rivers.
The Gunjur Committee believes that the uncontrolled and continuous fishing in the sea may cause the extinction of fish in Gambia’s waters. They agreed that any fisherman who embarks on ‘night fishing’ will lose his catches as it will be taken over by the committee. The committee said the Kartong Committee has allowed Kartong fishermen to fish at a time earlier that the app time (6am) but they were approached and promised to stop the fishermen from such illegality.
“The Kartong Fishing Committee failed to stop its fishermen from embarking on fishing at a time earlier than 6am” Gunjur Committee said.
The Kartong Fishermen, on their part said the fishermen of Gunjur cannot enforce a law because they have been deprived from selling by their fellow fishermen in Gunjur. They suggested that a law or an agreement should be enforceable by the government officials such as public servants. They reiterated that their fish have been seized several times by the Gunjur Fishermen.
At Kartong there was no business as fishermen desist from embarking on fishing as they perceived that it will not generate profit as there are no readily available buyers. Women were seen sitting with empty containers in gloomy states due to the effect caused by the incident and fishermen were sitting on the stalls.
The Golden Lead Company is the main market for fishermen for both Kartong and Gunjur fishermen as they buy in large quantity. On Tuesday, August 8, 2017, two trucks loaded with 200 baskets were referred back to Kartong by the Gunjur Committee accusing them that those fish caught were caught at night. The Kartong fishermen claimed a loss of more than D58,000 (fifty eight thousand dalasis) as they were denied by the people of Gunjur to sell their catch. At the Kartong Beach, a ditch of about 3.5 meters deep was dug and their fishes were dumped into it whilst many where left in heaps on the pathways of the beach.
Fishing has been brought to halt at Kartong and the two committees are yet to sit to discuss a resolution. Both Committees are pointing fingers to each other that the other side is wrong.