E.U. fishing subsidies drive illegal bushmeat trade in West Africa

Heavy European Union subsidies for fishing fleets off the coast of West Africa are driving the illegal bushmeat trade in the region, to devastating effect. As Euros eat more of their fish, there’s less left for West Africans, who turn to bushmeat — or the meat of wild animals, including gorillas and other primates — for food. This, in turn, leads to all sorts of nastiness. “Recent collapses of mammal populations in some areas of West Africa have been linked to geographic patterns of poverty and malnourishment,” write researchers in a new study in the journal Science. Many local mammal species have gone extinct, and others have declined by up to 76 percent. Meanwhile, E.U. subsidies for fishing fleets have gone from $6 million in 1981 to $350 million in 2001. Researchers concluded: “Our results emphasize the urgent need to develop cheap protein alternatives to bushmeat and to improve fisheries management by foreign and domestic fleets to avert extinctions of tropical wildlife.”

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