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Fishermen fear a new desalination plant in Dakar will threaten their livelihood

Fisherman get ready to hit the sea in the morning at the fishing port of Soumdedioune in Dakar, Senegal, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012.   -  
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Paul Chiasson/AP Photo/The Canadian Press


Several fishermen and restaurant owners in Dakar are worried by a seawater desalination plant under construction. They fear for the environmental impact that could lead to a shortage of fish "because of the waste from the plant".

Children playing innocently and holidaymakers enjoying their stay. This view is set to disappear from the Dakar coastline.

Senegalese President Macky Sall participated Tuesday in the groundbreaking ceremony of a seawater desalination plant. However, many beach aficionados did not welcome the news. Since 2016, they gathered in a collective fighting the project. They believe it will have a negative impact on the coastline.

"I have always been against this project, Laurent Da Costa the owner of the restaurant at 'Chez Max' we have tried to alert to the situation the public opinion and all those who were concerned. Yet nothing happened. So we are obliged to comply with the decision of the state."

Authorities argue the desalination plant will put an end to the water shortages that plague the lives of inhabitants of Senegal's semi-arid capital. However, the pumping station is set to be installed on the beach.

"We have one worry: will give us back the beach?, Laurent Da Costa  also called Bara asks. Otherwise, it is a pity for all of Senegal, especially the Dakar coast, because we knew the state of this coast back in the days. You could spend an entire day or evening there. It was extraordinary. Now you can barely access it. Even this very beach, they blocked our access, which was on the other side."

Business owners are not the only ones worried by the desalination plant. If the plant should have a capacity of 100,000 m3/day, fishermen fear because of the waste from the plant, they may suffer a shortage of fish

"If they set up the factory here, won't the salinity levels increase? Won't that scare the fish away? Did they tell the fishermen what will happen next?"

"The fish came to feed near the rocks, but since the beginning of the work, we no longer see any fish. In addition, divers can no longer spot fish because the sea water has been coloured by the waste from the factory."

The Senegalese president assured the state took all measures to control the environmental impacts and preserve the marine ecosystem.

The seawater desalination plant is part of a the government’s 2035 development scheme.

A recent World Bank report pointed to poor water management as part of the reason for shortages, along with overexploitation and groundwater pollution.

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