The city of Nouadhibou is the second-largest city in Mauritania, which is the country’s economic center. The eponymous port of Nouadhibou is the world’s largest ship graveyard and last refuge of more than 300 old ships abandoned by their owners.
Rusting in shallow water, these ships gave the city its infamous name – the old ship graveyard. Corrupt officials have taken bribes from ship owners for years, allowing them to dump them off the coast here.
The phenomenon began in the 1980s after the nationalization of the Moorish fishing industry. Numerous old and uneconomic ships were simply abandoned. Since parking a ship is quite expensive for the owner’s company, for decades, unneeded ships were simply removed and left in the harbor of Nouadhibou.
A few years ago, the situation became so uncontrollable and took a dangerous turn that even the Mauritanians themselves began to worry. In collaboration with the European Union, a project has now been launched to further recycle the old ships for scrap metal and clean up the bay.