Under cover of darkness: the damaging effects of illegal ‘saiko’ fishing – Rights History
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Under cover of darkness: the damaging effects of illegal ‘saiko’ fishing

A destructive fishing practice by foreign-owned industrial trawlers is threatening livelihoods in Ghana’s coastal communities

  • Words and photographs by Lieven Engelen in Cape Coast, Ghana

In the shadows of Fort Amsterdam, a former fort for enslaved people overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in southern Ghana, people wait eagerly for the colourful fishing boats to return to shore with their cargo of anchovies, sardinella and other small ocean fish. When the boats arrive there is a bustle of activity. Everybody wants a share.

Fishing binds coastal communities in Ghana, providing a livelihood for more than two million people. It is woven into cultures and traditions. Many fishers will not go to sea on Tuesdays, for example, believing it to be a day of rest for the sea goddess so she may give birth to more fish.

A man waits for the right wave at dawn before swimming out to his boat with supplies. Someone will usually stay overnight on the boat to prevent the engine from being stolen

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