The village of Andavadoaka lies on Madagascar’s south-west coast. The 1,500 Vezo tribes-people who live there are almost entirely dependent on the sea for their livelihood. Recent estimates show that fishing accounts for 90% of the village’s economy. Each morning almost the entire male population take to the sea in traditional Vezo boats, known as pirogues.
Eighteen-year-old Michel Strongoff [wearing a red cap] and his friend Noary, who is seventeen, are shark fishermen. Strongoff left school when he was sixteen and turned to fishing as it was the only way he could see to make money. Each day they sail around 15km offshore in his brother’s boat, Jamelia. “We fish every day except Sundays and religious festivals,” says Strongoff.
The Vezo have a close relationship with the sea and they are excellent sailors. “Every Vezo knows how to sail but when there are storms we are all afraid,” says Strongoff. “We’re also afraid of sharks. The land is our home, but the sea is the shark’s home. If God wants you to die, then the shark will get you. “But maybe the sharks are scared of us too!” he says, laughing.
The shark nets are left in the water for up to three months but Noary and Strongoff check them every day. “We decide where to leave the nets by dropping 100m long weighted line over the side. “If it makes a sharp sound on the bottom then it’s rock. What we want is a place where the weight makes a soft sound which means a sandy bottom. “That’s the best place for sharks.”
Gift from the Gods
They have caught a juvenile hammerhead shark. “Most of the sharks we catch are small,” says Noary, “but sometimes we catch a big one, maybe 2.5m long.”
See the full story on the BBC – Photo journal: Shark fishing in Madagascar