Fishing Report From Ibo Island

Talk to the oldsters on Ibo Island and they’ll tell you that the fishing used to be much better.  In an afternoon, you could fill up your canoe with fish as big as your arm.  Now you might fish all day and only have enough for you and your family to eat.

Ibo Island is off the coast of northern Mozambique. Most of the people who live there make their living from the sea.  Men fish the coral reefs that fringe Ibo and other nearby islands.  When the spring tides leave the corals exposed, women hunt the octopus that hide out in the crevices of the coral rock.  At low tide, children crisscross the intertidal zone, gleaning shellfish from the seagrass beds.

Ibo Islanders aren’t the only ones fishing these waters.  Farther offshore, illegal trawlers from Europe and Asia have mostly emptied out once-rich fishing grounds.  At night you can sometimes make out the the lights of trawlers on the horizon, but mostly they’re unseen.

In 2002, the Mozambican government, with technical assistance from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), established a network of marine sanctuaries in the area around Ibo Island.  The idea is that protected populations of marine species within the sanctuaries will spill over into the surrounding waters.  Preliminary research by WWF scientists suggests that these refuges are having a positive effect.  Still, as the oldsters will tell you, things aren’t what they used to be.  Hopefully, the situation can be stabilized before the fishing gets much worse.

Rich Press

Rich Press got started in the business as a Forensic Photographer for the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Today he shoots stories about science, technology and environment. His work has appeared in the New York Times, SEED, Scientific American, and elsewhere. He is also an Master of Environmental Science student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Check out his website at

More Posts - Website

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *