My interpreter, Andry, has been with me now for a month. He’s suffered through my show of google slides on fish quality and marketing for three workshops, and by now, he could just do it by himself without first me talking in English and he in Malagasy.
I knew he liked to fish from the first days we met. But it was not until the last few days that he told me his grandfather has 8 fish ponds, and that not only does he like to fish, he sells the fishes he catches. He does all freshwater fishing. Mainly tilapia and big ass eels from what he tells me, in the river near his home, as well as tilapia and maybe carp from his grandfather’s fish ponds.
I brought a heavier duty collapsible spinning rod this trip, as I wished I’d had one in Ecuador. We didn’t get to use it much, but I knew from about day 2 I’d be leaving it with Andry. I showed him how to cast in Belo sur Mer, and he spent a whole day casting from shore. I didn’t bring the right tackle for casting, and he didn’t catch anything, but he was thrilled to have the spinning rod, as he just uses a cane pole at home.
When he told me he sold fish, that gave me a little spark. After working with three groups of fishermen, all who say catches are bad and getting worse, I wasn’t sure how much help I could be giving them tips on taking care of and selling fish if there’s no fish to catch. Andry fishes in freshwater, and it sounds like maybe that fishery is better, so maybe he will be my unintended benefactor of this training.
He loves kids. He showed kids some videos on his phone in Menaky. Then handed them all 10 cents in their local currency so they could buy some candy.
It seems like the coastal ocean fishery here may be doomed. The catches are going down, people use mosquito nets for fishing to catch the smallest of fish, the foreign trawlers are fishing offshore, and from what I’ve seen (not seen, really) there’s little stock assessment and even less enforcement of laws, if there are any laws to protect the health of the fish stocks.
Many of the fishermen and market women expressed interest in fish farming. I’m not sure it would work well here on the coast, as the soil is sand so it won’t hold water. Using pond liners or building concrete ponds might not pencil out as cost effective in comparison to fish value out of them. And are there any feeds available. It wouldn’t be prudent to use any fish based fish feeds as then they’d just be taking fish out of the ocean to feed their fish on the land. The ocean along this stretch has a big surf, so I don’t think you could hold cages or net pens to grow salt water tilapia either.