Zimbabweans Find Risk and Reward in Illegal Fishing

As boats near the shore, fishermen in cut-off shorts and worn T-shirts hop into waist-deep water to pull their boats onto the gravel. Their skin is dark, almost black, burned by hours spent on the water in the punishing sun. The boats are flimsy, made of recycled building materials, like thin asbestos sheets held together by bolts and cement. The boats fill with water easily, and the fishermen constantly scoop out water as they fish.

Fishing has taken on new value in Zimbabwe’s dilapidated economy. A long, ongoing drought coupled with the country’s endless stream of new monetary policies has made making a living in agriculture and farming nearly impossible. As their land goes fallow, farmers have headed to fishing communities like this one to try their hands at fishing. “Fishing is the backbone of our economy,” says Tichaona Manzungu, chairman of the fishermen’s society in Gache Gache.

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