This contribution seeks to address the increasingly conflict-laden interrelations and processes between Chinese distant water and local artisanal fisheries along the West African coast. It departs from the assumption that the ocean is no longer acting merely as ‘transport surface’ for people and goods and as a zone of influence, but instead as the object of interest in itself. Distant marine, submarine and coastal resources have become subject to Chinese ambitions through its distant water fishing fleet and large-scale projects like the MSRI. While the inflow of Chinese funds into large-scale infrastructure schemes under the MSRI label is often welcomed by local elites, the Chinese extraction of fish resources is challenged locally and regionally, a tendency that is likely to increase further due to the rapid exploitation of fish stocks.
This paper aims at an empirically grounded analysis of negotiation practices over resource access and use between different fisheries stakeholders, including fishers, local entrepreneurs in fish processing, consumers and policy-makers in West Africa. Based on preliminary fieldwork in Senegal, Mauritania and Ghana, it draws attention to the conflicts that arise over tendencies of dispossession of local artisanal fisheries from fish resources, on the one hand. It however also seeks to scrutinize the adaptation strategies and practices that artisanal fishers apply in their livelihoods due to increasing competition over available fish stocks along the West African Atlantic coast.