Last time I left you, I was not sure if we would make it to Pomene or not. Well, we finally made it, the flight got worked out and we left at 8. Apparently no airplanes from South Africa can fly in Mozambique so companies in South Africa register planes in Swaziland to get around the regulations. Good thing too, because otherwise they wouldnâ€™t have any good air carriers here. Anyway, this is Africa and that is the way it goes. When we got here, we were treated to what was an incredible vista out over the Mozambique coast. It must be one of the most beautiful coasts I have ever seen. See pic attached. The crew dropped off the gear at the lodge and headed down to the coast where the main village is. We had to meet the chief and spend some time visiting with elders and get their blessing to work and film in the area.
Once that was done, we were able to head off to see one of the villagers who is famous for his skills as a shark fisherman. Lucy and I spent a good deal of time with him, a few hours in all and learned a lot of interesting things. Shark fishing in this region didnâ€™t really happen until 1995 when he was asked by â€œthe bossâ€ (that is all he would say about him but I assume it is another fisherman) to move to the area from a region further south to start fishing sharks. Since then, he has grown his operation to a few boats, 8 family members and has also been joined by others. He catches around 200 sharks a year and reckons that the village in total catches 1000 sharks, although it is very likely that this is an underestimation. He makes about 50 dollars for a large shark (12 feet or more), which is quite a lot of money. What is interesting is that most of the fisherman are not from the region and have come because the fishing is good here and further south the fisheries are already crowded or they have been chased out by people trying to develop the sharks as a tourist attraction.
There is very little, if any, regulation and so these finning operations go unimpeded. When I asked, he conceded that he knew the fins were for expensive soup and that he sells directly to Chinese merchants. He also conceded that he thought it was ridiculous to eat soup like that but that it wasnâ€™t his business. Then he showed us a jaw from a 5 foot reef shark he was drying that he sells to tourists and a few shark fins he had still on the drying rack. As truly gruesome as it was to see it, it was part of the story and I had to grin and bear it.
Tomorrow we travel at 5AM to film the fisherman leaving shore and heading out to check their longlines and then film their return. That is not something I am looking forward to, but it is a critical story to tell.
Okay, that is all I have time for, I am huddled under my mosquito netting, in the dark, in a boiling hot hut with bats flying around me, which is a good thing because they eat the bugs. However, clearly they donâ€™t eat enough because the light of my laptop is attracting some very large flying objects which are constantly bombarding my netting, it is getting very disconcerting because some of them are getting through and I canâ€™t find the hole to plug it up.
This will not be a restful nightâ€¦