Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz
A frenzy of longshoremen greeted arriving fishing boats this week on the beach of Kayar, Senegal. If you look closely at the pirogue at the top of this picture you can see the fish porters swamping the boat as they climb on board through the surf. Fish are the primary source of protein in Senegal, but the fishery has been so over exploited that when I was there last week, this was the only one of the country’s four main fishing ports that had significant landings. #onassignment for @natgeo#sustainability#overfishing
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz#onassignment this week for @natgeo
An optimistic crew heads down the Senegal River to try their luck off the coast of West Africa. Most of the motorized pirogues coming in this morning didn’t have enough catch to even stop at the local market, and went straight home with barely enough for their families. Heavy fishing pressure from both artisanal boats and foreign industrial-scale ships has greatly reduced what was once one of the the world’s richest fisheries. #sustainability
Small shark heads set out to dry beside the harbor in Nouadhibou, Mauritania. Shark fishing is illegal in Mauritania, but there is a lot of by-catch. The fins are sent to China for soup, and the meat and heads are sold in Nigeria and Spain. Only by identifying problems like this can we begin to find solutions. #onassignment for @natgeo#fishing#sustainability
Cleaning nets of purse seining pirogues after a night of fishing on the open sea. Schools of pelagic fish rise to the surface and make a bright spot in West African waters, which makes them easier to find at night. It’s hard but beautiful way life for these Senegalese fishermen, who bring in the primary source of protein for the country. #onassignment for @natgeo
Thousands of people crowd the shoreline at sunrise as the catch of night fishermen arrives in Kayar, Senegal. If you look closely you can see the piles and bins of fish on the beach. Fish are the main source of protein in the Senegalese diet, and deeply ingrained in their vibrant culture. A growing population and increasing pressure from industrial fishing ships from various countries has greatly diminished fish stocks. I visited the five biggest artisanal fishing areas in Senegal this week, and this was the only one with significant landings. #onassignment today for @natgeo
Purse seining pirogues offload their catch just after sunrise on the beach of Kayar, Senegal. West African waters have been heavily fished by both artisanal boats like these as well as industrial ships from other countries, and the fish populations are rapidly declining. But when the big schools of pelagic fish are offshore, the landing still takes on epic proportions. Video by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz#onassignment today for @natgeo#fishing#sustainability
Bringing in the catch on a tamunant fishing boat in Banc d’Arguin National Park. Only 114 lanteen sailboats are allowed to fish in these protected waters, which are an important wintering area for migratory birds, and a nursery for many key species of marine life. We sailed three hours each way to get to their three 6x6cm nets, and the water was never over a few meters deep. As we roasted fish and sipped sweet on the way back, I felt like I had stepped back in time. #sustainabilty#fishing#onassignment for @natgeo
Photograph by George Steinmetz #onassignment for @natgeo
Fishing boats returning from checking nets in Banc d’Arguin National Park, Mauritania. Only 114 of these artisanal sailboats are allowed to work where motorized fishing is prohibited, to protect the tidal breeding habitat for both birds and marine life. Known locally as tamunant, my hosts caught fish over 40kg that have become increasingly rare in Mauritanian waters. This style of wooden boat with a lanteen sail was adopted from the Canary Islands centuries ago. The going is slow, so we had plenty of time to roast fish and make sweet tea on the sail home! #NotTooShabby#sustainability
Drying small shark heads is a smelly job left for immigrants, who export them to Nigeria for use in soup. Shark fishing is illegal in Mauritania, but fish nets are indiscriminate killers, and selling by-catch is legal here, no matter the size. I don’t expect you to “like” this picture, but hope you appreciate the effort to make it. Only by identifying the source of a problem can we start to find solutions. #onassignment for @natgeo#sustainability#shark#sharkfishing
Fishing village outside Nouakchott, Mauritania as I saw it in 1997. The population of Mauritania was over 90% pastoral nomads at the time of independence in 1960. After a severe drought, approximately 40% of Mauritania's population moved to the capital. Mauritania’s Atlantic coast has one of the world’s richest fisheries, and the beach-side port is packed with fishing pirogues from Senegal.
Thousands of fiberglass boats clogged Nouadhibou harbor at the end of octopus season last week. The maximum allowable catch is 25k tons according to the government, but this year the catch was 38k tons, with the overage from small motorized pirogues like these. Mauritania has one of the richest fisheries remaining in West Africa, and most of it is caught for export, like octopus for the Japanese market. #onassignment for @natgeo#fishing#sustainability
Much of the day was spent deciding how many cows (in this case 35) would be used for the dowry. And after wedding negotiations were completed dancing ensued at the house of the groom in a Nuer village in Unity State, South Sudan.