early mornings

the sun here rises around 7a.m. but you don’t see the first 20 minutes of the ascent.  generally, it is hidden by a haze of cloudy smoke until modestly, like a heavy sleeper who sneaks quickly to shower before coming to breakfast, the sun breaks through the haze to show her full roundness to those up and watching.

you can watch the sun rise from our hostel, Oceanium because it is on the tip of the coast of Dakar that curves around East in the North Atlantic Ocean.  However, there doesn’t seem to be too many people watching the sunrise this morning. There are a few shuffling feet as a couple of early risers wander around slowly around but largely it feels like it’s me and the fishermen.

Fishing, according to UNEP and other sources, plays a critical role in Senegal both in terms of employment and for providing protein to Senegalese population.  Directly it employs around 100, 000 nationals, of which more than 90
per cent are in small-scale fishing.  however, the government has also sold fishing rights to multinationals and the fish with market value are seriously over-exploited.  this over-exploitation is reflected in the price of fish when you go to local restaurants for a meal.  us tourists can generally cover the 1 or 2 dollar difference in the price but i imagine it’s a different story for locals.

The canoes and the silhouetted fisherman dot the sea. they glide smoothly, manually propelling themselves with what looks like one large paddle.  the absence of motors and the small surface area in their canoes keeps their catch to a minimum, perhaps a sustainable minimum.

i wonder if they catch just enough for the day to cover their daily needs and earn a bit of cash to buy other goods? I wonder if they can save money with the amount they earn through fishing? i wonder if they have to fish longer hours just to catch their needs now that the fishing stocks have been so exploited?

there are so many more questions and complexities to explore here in Dakar.

For example, reading back through this post I realist it sounds a bit like a romantic description of under-development from the perspective a white Westerner. but then, i think, ho is this scene under-development? i mean, these fisherman have managed to continue an activity that sustains them and their families for many years simply because they do not have the motors and the big boats that have fished out our oceans.  Also, i’ve written this post sitting outside in the comfortable patio of the hostel hooked up to the reasonably fast wireless that connects me here, in Dakar, to the rest of the world.


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