Monday , 22 April 2024
As a consequence to the shutdown of the main fishery of Nosy Be island, fishing activities unexpectedly resume and expand, be it outside every regulation. The paradoxical matter of fact has its source in the latest economic downturn and gets materialized by job losses affecting various other fields like tourism or sugar production industries. The Perfume Island actually happens to be more of a consumer than a producer of fishery resources mainly supplied from areas like Ambanja and Ambilobe. Fishing boats and artisanal fishermen have nonetheless always been part of the picture of Nosy Be island.

Nosy Be: an island without fishermen would not be worth the name, would it?

Quite early in an afternoon as hot as hell can be, a small fishing boat comes ashore from the Channel. A skipper and his son have returned from expedition. “Fair catch, although we did not catch as many as expected. We have to sail quite far away to make a score, but this we cannot afford, can we? …certainly not on our good old canoe” reported Martin. With more than fifty winters behind, Martin learned to become a full time fisherman by doing after a doomed career in the sugar production industry. “Fishing has always been part of our lives, though mostly as a hobby on Sundays or when fish is required for the next meal. I was lucky to have long been familiar to the know how when I lost my job” he explained. His concerns do not wither for so much though, since he now has to dare more complicated odds whether he likes it or not, to make a living: “should we bring less than 10kg of fish back, we would have lost the day for nothing. Thank God we are able to sell out everything we catch, and make a decent living by the day. When fortune is ours, the sea may reel up to 50kg of fish in.”

Fishing has, however, become much of an overwhelming activity to aging Martin: “I set sail with my son to teach him the drill, so that he also gets an opportunity to make a decent living for himself. I will be off the ship in two or three years”… but certainly not yet out of the business: “there is nothing else to do in sight. And a man as old as I am will find it hard anyway to get a job at all” conceded the fisherman. Martin longs for turning into a fish trader and supplying hotels and resorts with fish: “”So good that hotels and inns purchase our fish. They are very choosy, take only the best catch and compel us to improve our fishing techniques.”

Unfortunately, every other newcomer in this profession does not relate to the sea in the same way as Martin does, and does not have the same understanding of professionalism or the same sense of business. “The problem is that many new fishermen cannot be told to practice either artisanal or traditional fishing. They actually have but little fishing background, while a certain score of them happens to be everything but seamen at all” sorely explained the head of the Regional Fishing Resources Management Department of Nosy Be island. Alain Jaosedy welcomes the sea’s role as option to jobless labor force though. “What we need is an active training center, to familiarize people with fishing know how, and provide them with assistance, but this center is shut down as well. There is a project running to reopen the training center and help people get the right move on” declared the head of department. According to his assessment, fishermen would be selling raw products at very low prices because of the lack of any form of added value: “They could eventually set about trading smoked fish. Besides, a standard fisherman used to be spending his gains of the day on drinks in a pub or on a woman not far from the same pub. A shift of mentality is paramount, even on an island famed for its pleasure providing vocation” outlined the head of the Regional Fishing Resources Management Department when stressing the importance of being first and foremost a good manager.