Fishermen in French Guiana complain of foreign boats overfishing their waters
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For years, fishermen in French Guiana, a French territory in South America, have been complaining about illegal coastal fishing. The culprits are wooden boats - called "tapouilles" - that come from Brazil, Suriname and Guyana to take advantage of the rich fish stocks in French waters. Although the problem has been around for a long time, Guyanese fishermen believe that the survival of their industry is now under threat.
We spoke to Sylvian Marie Saibou, a fisherman who has been documenting these illegal fishing boats in order to call on authorities for help.
I publish videos like this to alert the authorities to the pillaging of fish that goes on in French waters. Each time I go out, I come across at least 20 boats fishing illegally. The most I ever counted in one day was 43. They use nets that have a fine mesh. That means they catch everything, even fish that are just three centimetres long. It destroys the fish population.
These fine mesh nets catch even more than just fish. Sea turtles can get caught up in the material, which can kill them. Leatherback sea turtles come to Guianese beaches to lay their eggs, but their numbers have fallen by 95% over the past 20 years.
Fishermen in French Guiana are calling on authorities to increase patrols to catch illegal fishing boats and heighten penalties for those who are caught.
CORRECTION 14/02/2023: In this video, we incorrectly stated that Guyanese fishing associations "said most of the boats came from Suriname" and that "the Surinamese denied that, saying that French Guiana was too long a trip for their boats to make." In fact, it was Surinamese fishing associations who claimed that most of the boats came from the Republic of Guyana, who in turn, denied this, saying it was too far a trip for their boats to make.