Chapter 3: Fencing fisheries in Namibia and beyond
Namibia is famous for its wildlife safaris, sand surfing, and, for the adventurous angler, shark fishing. After seeing lions at Etosha National Park, and getting a mouthful of sand while surfing, I had to try fishing. Near the city of Swakopmund, a monster fishing rod in hand, I stood staring at the Atlantic Ocean. Accustomed to fly fishing for trout in small rivers in the American West, I had no idea what I was doing. The result: I got skunked. Part of me was glad. The thought of getting a hook out of shark’s mouth was daunting. On the other hand, I was envious of the locals who were landing fish all around me – a good reminder that locals know best. One native Namibian who was not getting skunked was Johanna Kwedhi – Namibia’s first female trawler captain. Kwedhi commands the Kanus, one of the largest trawlers operating from Luderitz Harbour (BBC 2010). She is proving that a woman can not only navigate a coastline infamous for shipwrecks, but can also bring in a profitable catch. She broke another barrier too: “We have never seen a black person in charge of a ship,” says Evalisto Shipo, a local boatswain. When Kwedhi first came to Luderitz to train with the Namibian Fisheries Institute, she lived in a house with no electricity or bathroom. “People said to me, ‘Wow, an officer living in the shantytown!’ But I say, ‘No, I am here with peace of mind and I have my health.’” Her company is training four more local women to be skippers.
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