Pirates cause a social and environmental ruckus in Africa

There’s lots of money involved in commercial fishing off African coastlines — a full trawler can bring in over $400,000. The high stakes, poor regulation, and lack of coast guards lure “pirates,” foreign anglers who bully locals and deplete area fish stocks illegally. Many unlicensed vessels trawl with huge nets and discard up to 70 percent of their catch. A Greenpeace venture that tracked more than 100 ships in West African waters over a three-week period found that more than half were fishing illegally. Pirates cost the governments of Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and other sub-Saharan countries more than $1.2 billion in stolen fish, unpaid taxes, and lost work every year. “At the current rate, Sierra Leone will not have a fishing industry in the next 10 years,” says a former fisheries protection officer for the country. Arrr.