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Sea Shanties

© Natalija Gormalova

Sea shanties are the songs of the fishermen at sea – synthesis of heavy breathing, chanting, sweating, getting hands sliced open when pulling the fishing nets. Sea shanties are the songs of hope that one day there will be the enough fish in the ocean to feed everybody. I travelled along the coastline of Ghana, from Ivory Coast to Togo, staying in the fishing villages, talking to fishing families, joining the men at sea and trying to get to the core of why the fishing stock has decreased in the Gulf of Guinea. Due to the recent discovery of oil on the west coast of Ghana, environmental issues (illegal gold mining, plastic waste) and continued incursions by Chinese fishing fleets, there are considerably less fish in local nets and the communities that rely on fishing are facing an ever-increasing challenge to feed their families. Ghana used to have a thriving fishing industry but nowadays many fishermen have been forced to leave this ancient tradition behind and find new job opportunities in bigger villages or cities, causing a gradual displacement of the entire community.I am exploring and questioning what place fishing has in the future of these villages, whether young people still value fishing as a profession, what other work people have to do to make the ends meet and the impact that reduced fishing stock is having on the fishing communities.

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