Helen Scales

dead fish 2

Dead fish mystery solved

Remember those dead fish on the beach getting munched by vultures that appeared in my first Gambian post? (some without heads?) Well, I’ve found out where they’re coming from.

I met Chris, a fisheries biologist visiting from the US who’s working with a local project called Ba Nafaa. He’s out here helping local fishermen find more selective ways of catching fish. One of the main methods they use at the moment is to motor out, set a net in the water marked with a foam buoy. The nets are designed to form a barrier, held open by floats placed along the length. But floats are expensive, so fishermen don’t use enough and instead of a neat wall their nets form a tangle. Returning the next day fishermen find fish snagged and after spending the night steeped in warm, tropical sea, many have already started to go bad. These slightly manky fish are pulled from the nets, often leaving their heads behind, and thrown overboard and some of them end up on beaches as vulture food.

Mystery solved.

It’s slightly puzzling that fishermen throw some of these rotting fish away, when they choose to keep other nasty fish to make fermented fish sauce (similar to a SE Asian concoction).

Chris is also working on introducing ice and cheap, foam coolers. If fishermen can keep their catches fresher they can earn more money for them at the local market. The boxes will be made from local materials and the question he’s setting out to answer is whether local fishermen will want to use them. 

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