In Pictures: The increase of shark fishing off the Congolese coast

In Pictures: The increase of shark fishing off the Congolese coast

An angler has a hard time to press a wheelbarrow loaded with sharks that have actually simply been dropped off a pirogue on the beach of Songolo, the fishing district of Pointe-Noire in the Republic of the Congo. Numerous artisanal fishing teams on the Congolese coast specialise in shark fishing [Marco Simoncelli/Al Jazeera]

Published On 22 Nov 2021

Pointe-Noire, Republic of the Congo– With the increase of commercial fishing off the Congolese coast, artisanal fishing teams have actually progressively concentrated on shark fishing to earn a living.

Shark fishing is not brand-new, supposedly shark fishing teams headed out on narrow, canoe-like pirogues as far back as the 1980 s however the phenomenon has actually increased progressively in the previous 20 years, and activists caution the practice is ending up being unsustainable.

Other aspects have actually driven this boom, consisting of the building and construction of overseas oil facilities that has actually decreased the locations where artisanal teams can fish simply as more commercial fishing indicated higher competitors.

And the continuing need for shark fins in parts of Asia makes shark fishing rewarding.

The artisanal shark fishers go far out to sea, tossing webs overboard prior to sundown and drawing the sharks in with bait and blood throughout the night.

On a lot of days, numerous sharks are disposed along the beach of Songolo in the fishing district of Pointe-Noire, where they are offered on the area. Lots of are hammerhead, bigeye thresher, smooth, and mako sharks– all threatened types.

In addition, a lot of the sharks being captured are not completely grown, according to Jean-Michel Dziengue, a Congolese activist at the ecological NGO Bouée Couronne, who states lots of are juvenile or little.

” The pattern impacts the whole fish resource. In markets, fish are getting smaller sized and smaller sized. It’s an indication that individuals are fishing in generating locations,” he stated.

According to a 2017 study by the NGO Traffic, 95 percent of the sharks captured in the Republic of the Congo (1,767 tonnes) originated from artisanal anglers– accounting for one-third of their yearly catch.

Dozens of shark types are captured in the nation, consisting of 7 noted on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and thought about threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Dziengue feels the fishers’ relocation towards shark fishing can be credited to the unchecked growth of commercial fishing.

” First, fishing locations were lowered by two-thirds by overseas oil exploitation. Foreign commercial vessels increased especially after 2005 when they leapt from 24 to more than 70 in simply a couple of years, and beginning fishing without limitations even in generating locations. The artisanal anglers were gradually pressed into a corner,” he stated.

According to Traffic, in a maritime location where an optimum of 30 licences must be provided to commercial vessels, as lots of as 110 vessels were cruising in2018 This number has actually been up to about 80 vessels, according to Congolese authorities.

Dziengue stated authorities do not have the ways to impose laws to avoid overfishing by commercial trawlers. “The authorities have just one patrol boat for the whole coast,” he included.

According to a current research study released by Current Biology, one-third of the world’s shark and ray types are at threat of termination due to overfishing and the variety of types of sharks and rays dealing with “international termination crisis” doubled in a years.

Senegalese shark biologist Mika Samba Diop informed Al Jazeera sharks were starting to vanish from African seas in which they were formerly typical.

” Sharks are ‘the gendarmes’ of the marine community balance, they are long-lived however have weak fecundity. If they are fished intensively, serious damage is created,” he stated.

Guylaine raises a big smooth shark simply purchased auction in the huge ‘Marché du Oui’ in Pointe-Noire. Shark meat is valued by the Congolese and has actually constantly been consumed in the pubs of the city’s suburban areas and likewise in those of the capital, Brazzaville. Guylaine has actually been operating in the fish trade for several years, however states he is uninformed that the smooth shark is a threatened types. [Marco Simoncelli/Al Jazeera]

Every day on Songolo beach, pirogue traders specialising in shark fishing dump numerous sharks of various types and sizes. Instantly, lots of purchasers collect to bid for the very best ones. In the high season, each pirogue can reach a thousand sharks. [Marco Simoncelli/Al Jazeera]

A fishing directorate representative weighs a little shark prior to the start of an auction in between fishmongers on Songolo beach in Pointe-Noire. The Republic of the Congo has actually signed a number of worldwide conventions on fish preservation, the market stays uncontrolled. [Marco Simoncelli/Al Jazeera]

Alani Milagnawoe, 42, is the captain of a Congolese shark fishing pirogue. He concerned Congo from Benin 20 years earlier looking for much better chances. Like lots of others, he at first captured sharks inadvertently with the rest of his catch. He started to specialise in shark fishing since he states it is the only catch successful enough for him to make it through. [Marco Simoncelli/Al Jazeera]

Some team members led by Alani set their webs on the high seas prior to sundown. Throughout the night, after a number of hours of waiting attempting to bring in predators with live bait and blood, they will prepare the internet wanting to capture sharks. A fishing expedition can last a number of days and the team might relocate to numerous locations to make numerous efforts. [Marco Simoncelli/Al Jazeera]

Using ropes, wood beams and steel poles, Alani’s team drags a big pirogue onto the beach. Artisanal fishing in Africa is a dangerous and stressful occupation. These anglers browse the high seas with easy tools and couple of precaution. Due to the fact that of oil platforms and commercial fishing boats, they are required to cruise more and additional offshore. [Marco Simoncelli/Al Jazeera]

Many of the sharks discarded on Songolo beach are juveniles. This is an indication that the shark population is being overfished. According to examinations by the NGO Traffic, over 10,000 tonnes of scalloped hammerhead shark, a seriously endangered types, were captured in the nation in between 2007 and2017 [Marco Simoncelli/Al Jazeera]

At the ‘Marché Foire’ in Pointe-Noire, sharks are offered dried for domestic intake. ‘We see smaller sized and smaller sized fish in the markets. It’s worrying,’ states Congolese ecological activist, Jean-Michel Dziengue. He states anglers are targeting sharks ‘generally since of business that can be done due to the worth of their fins’. [Marco Simoncelli/Al Jazeera]

In the back of a market in Pointe-Noire, a male displays fins that have actually simply been severed from big sharks. The prohibited trafficking of fins to Asian markets is well structured. No fin exports appear in Congo nationwide fisheries and customizeds information, although in Hong Kong, the world’s crucial market for this kind of item, 131,594 kg of fins from Congo-Brazzaville were tape-recorded in between 2005 and 2019, according to a report by Traffic. [Marco Simoncelli/Al Jazeera]

The Marché du Oui on the borders of Pointe-Noire is among the primary retail areas for fish and likewise sharks. Foreign, commercial fishing business running in Congo come here with containers to offer a part of their catch wholesale. Their existence has actually even more added to the increasing rate of fish that utilized to come specifically from artisanal fisheries. [Marco Simoncelli/Al Jazeera]

The fishing neighborhood grew substantially in current years, while the building of the various oil platforms offshore from Pointe-Noire decreased the artisanal fishing location by two-thirds. Presently, more than 700 artisanal fishing pirogues run with teams made up of lots of anglers who got here from other West African nations such as Benin, Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria. [Marco Simoncelli/Al Jazeera]

Giselle, 38, smokes bongo fish in the Songolo area and after that offers it at the marketplace. Given that the fish has actually ended up being rarer, her task which of numerous other ladies in the neighborhood associated with fish processing is at danger. ‘Today I can just begin an optimum of 2 fireplaces for smoking cigarettes; I utilized to run more than double in the past. It was a great deal of work.’ [Marco Simoncelli/Al Jazeera]

The Songolo area is amongst the poorest in Pointe-Noire. The living conditions of the fishing neighborhood are tough. There are no sewage systems, no health centers and no schools. In spite of the reality that in current years the city has actually ended up being the financial capital of the nation, thanks to the substantial oil fields offshore, the majority of the population does not take advantage of this advancement. [Marco Simoncelli/Al Jazeera]

Senegalese biologist Mika Samba Diop is amongst the couple of African professionals associated with studying shark fishing on the Atlantic coast. ‘We understand that in West Africa the population remains in remarkable decrease, however we have no information on what is taking place in Central Africa since nobody is researching. I fear the worst for the environment there too.’ [Marco Simoncelli/Al Jazeera]