Art Literature

Indigenous fishing: Thomas’ story

Visit website
  • Art,
  • community,
  • challenges,
  • fishing,
  • indigenous knowledge,
  • indigenous people,
  • Law,
  • traditional practices,
  • South Africa
  • English

In this area, KwaNibela, fishing is the main thing that we all do for a living, nothing else, we all rely on fishing for our livelihood.

I learned how to fish from my uncles who used to go fishing since I was a kid. My uncles used to knit the nets and fish every day, and they would bring bulks of fish home. I realised that fishing is important as my uncles brought food for all of us to eat and that is what caught my attention. Then I started to follow them when they were going fishing. I started to seriously join them in 1998, and since that time I have learned to fish independently. The independence grew in me. I have realised that to be a man you must work hard to survive, and for me, I had to be brave by going into the water to fish. Fishing has been part of the culture in the area, KwaNibela has become a fishing village because everyone from kids, adults, fathers, old people, and even mothers you see them pulling up their skirts and jump in the water to fish. In this area fishing is the main thing that we all do for a living, nothing else, we all rely on fishing for our livelihood. We even have educated children who are graduated through the money earned from fishing. We are located near a lake we call the “Nibela Peninsula” because it is a lake from KwaNibela. As indigenous fishers we have our own ways of fishing that government is against, we make our own fishing grass basket (for handpicking fishing method) and we weave our own nets. Because of the changing times and things have developed, we now buy nets which are made in China, and that saves time because normally to weave a net can take up to a month. Now we simply buy the net and go fishing. Even if the government regulates how many fish we are allowed to catch, we want the government to recognise our indigenous fishing methods because it is the only way that we feel comfortable with when we are fishing. I wish that our lake could be regulated and controlled from overfishing. It is difficult now to control fishing because we fish uncomfortably. With every chance that we get for fishing, we make sure that we take as much as we can in a run to avoid being arrested. We only find that we end up having a lot of fish even the ones that we don’t want, sometimes it goes off and we throw it away because we overfished and don’t know where to sell. But if we are fishing free without being chased by the police, we are going to be able to control the way we fish, even the sizes of fishing nets that we use, we will use big sized nets to avoid catching small fish so that they will grow. I also wish that the ocean could be protected so that even our next generations will experience it clean and enjoy the treasures that are found in the ocean.