The government of Sierra Leone, West Africa, has sold 250 acres of beach and a protected rainforest to China, to build a fishing harbor.
It’s a $55 million deal that has been criticized by conservationists and rights groups who claim the move will affect local people, tarnish endangered species, and cause irreversible harm to the planet.
Sierra Leone fishing port deal
It all began with rumors about a Chinese fishmeal plant circling on social media, The Guardian reports.
Then, it was confirmed a facility was to be built along the Black Johnson coastline which would allow for ‘bigger fishing’ and a move into the international market.
The proposed site lies alongside the Western Area Peninsula National Park, which is home to rare animals and endangered species.
Moreover, the Sierra Leone Fisheries Ministry confirmed the stretch of beach was the ‘most suitable’ spot for construction.
As a result, a host of environmentalist groups penned their frustrations with the government. According to The Guardian, they’re demanding studies and assessments into the social and ecological impact.
However, the ministry said it would offer a funding package to affected landowners in the region. But the landowners want the deal scrapped.
Greenpeace Africa deplored the plans, writing on Twitter: “Permitting more extractive activities in this region will only worsen the situation.”
The organization says the fishing community in the country is already experiencing the effects of environmental degradation as a result of the climate crisis.
Additionally, one of the Black Johnson landowners branded it ‘disastrous’ for both the country and the planet.
Fears are the harbor will plunder fish stocks, pollute marine life, and destroy the picturesque rainforest.
Moreover, the shore is known as Whale Bay because so many dolphins and whales are spotted there. Land earmarked for the harbor is also a breeding ground for various species of fish.
How to help
To help save the beach, campaigners launched a crowdfunder in order to raise legal fees for a judicial review.
Moreover, they brand the deal ‘corrupt’ and are calling for it to be halted immediately.
It will jeopardize the entire nation’s food security, they say, and is an ‘international problem’.