Wednesday, March 16, 2016

‘Fish is not expensive in Tanji’---Vendor

Mansa Banko blog has visited one of the busiest and biggest fishing sites in the Islamic Republic of The Gambia to share the stories of the fish vendors and sailors after attending the African Journalists for Sustainable Fisheries Workshop in Elmina, Ghana.

The high profile workshop gathered more than 140 journalists drawn from 40 African countries- February 29th to March 4th, 2016.

The World Bank, African Union- Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) in collaboration with the USAID funded the workshop. 

The workshop culminated with the opening of an Award Competition for African journalists from the 4th to 17th March, 2016 to submit fisheries-related stories.

Tanji Village, often called the Tanji Fishing Village, is close to the Atlantic Ocean beach, in the northern section of the Kombo South District, West Coast Region of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia, in West Africa.

The settlement is 30km by road from the capital of Banjul, and approximately 12km southwest of Kololi resort, and adjacent to the Kombo Coastal Road.

The main ethnic groups are Mandinka, Wolof, Jola, and Serer, the last group are traditionally the fisherfolk, while the former are generally engaged in farming, crafts and petty trading. 

The village centre is located about 1km from the main fishing bay
Tanji, which is believed to be one of the oldest fishing centres, is now a household name in supplying fresh and cheap fish to all the big fish markets including Serrekunda, Brikama and Sukuta.

Mrs. Fatou Sarr, a vendor said fish is not expensive at Tanji compared to the other markets.

At Tanji, according to her, prices of fish range from D5.00 to D100.00 depending on how the sailors price it.

“Sometimes, we do get it from them at a low price and sometimes at high price, but here in Tanji most of the times fish is not that much expensive compared to other markets. If you go to Serrekunda market, the lowest price of fish is D25 to D50 but here you can have it with any amount of money,” she explained.

For Mr. Pa Joof, a Senegalese fisherman in Tanji, he started fishing since 1997 with his kids. He re-echoed that the price of fish depends on the sea.

He said the big basket of fish usually cost up to D2, 500 to D3, 000 ($75, $62.5) and sometimes D2, 000 ($50).

There are basically two types of beaches in Tanji. The first is directly in front of the fishing village and is a fish landing site, so it is not suitable for swimming or sunbathing. Because it's a very active, working beach, you'll find it scattered with old, shredded gillnets, sea snail shells, malodorous rotting seafood, plastic bags and bottles, and other flotsam and jetsam, floating on the water or resting on the shore.

The air is filled with the odour of smoked fish; an unimaginable number of flies swarm around fresh or discarded seafood, seagulls hover overhead looking for scraps, fishermen land their afternoon catch from long African pirogues, passing buckets of catch onto the heads of local women, who then ferry it to the shore. Activity is frenzied and messy, but surprisingly efficient.

To the north of Tanji fishing village, after the bridge, is the Karinti Bird Reserve, where the coastline has a few sand bars and lagoons, where the beach is far cleaner and relatively deserted, but access is often hindered by dense, scrub woodland.

About 1km south of the fishing village, the bay's strand is more of what you would expect as holiday standard; clean, white sands, backed by a strip of palms and shoreline scrub. You will see the occasional passerby or meandering herd of cows.

Tanji Community Fisheries Centre:
The harbour was upgraded and finally inaugurated in 2001. The centre is one of the seven major coastal artisanal fishing communities in the Gambia, and is at the centre of the local economy. It was developed with grant-in-aid to the tune of US$ 4.5 million from the Japanese government.

Among the facilities here are an ice-plant, chill room, refrigerated trucks, smoking houses, and fishmongers’ sales area. Three dozen or so people are directly employed here, with a further 2,000 people engaged in activities linked to the fishing village.

The species which are most often smoked are Shads, marine Catfish, Barracuda, Sharks and round and flat Sardinella spp. Eighty percent of the landings consists of Bonga (shad); 40% of which are preserved by smoking.

The curing with firewood is done by hired men and a portion of the smoked fish is exported to neighbouring West African countries like Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal. In view of the huge quantities of shad caught here, Tanji has long been called the 'Bonga Capital of The Gambia'.

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