‘Climate-induced migration’, despite significant critical scholarship of the nexus, is now a common rationale for enhancing border control in the global North. Governments across the global North have weaponized land, sea, and even the effects of extreme weather, against those who seek to cross their borders for a ‘better future’ via unauthorised means. Drawing upon Mbembe’s (2020) concept of the universal right to breathe, focus is placed upon fishing ecosystems in Dakar and Saint Louis to reveal how these are spaces where the ‘breath of life’ becomes suffocated by the ecological precarity and mobility injustices that the population is exposed to within the global extractivist economy. These are sites of multiple and complex mobilities: being both arrival points and, for a minority of people, particularly fishermen, transit points for departure on the perilous illegalized journey to the Canary Islands, and thus Europe, across the Atlantic Ocean in pirogues (small wooden fishing boats). The Wolof motto for this journey is: "Barca wala barsakh" – “either we get to Barcelona or we die trying”: Literally, Barcelona or the hereafter. This is seen as a life and death challenge as other, legal, routes are not possible for these border crossers. This ‘challenge’ is a form of maintaining some hope for the future, of finding space to breathe in a more habitable environment. A counternarrative is then given to contest simplistic narratives of climate migrants as threat to the global North, visibilising instead the global socio-economic imbalances and complexities at the heart of the climate crisis and unjust border controls.
Keywords: borders|climate crisis|Senegal|climate migration|mobility justice