Bad Day in Luanda, Angola (Africa)

Posted: September 25, 2012 in Conservation, Shark News
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Having been in Luanda for the last few days, I decided it was time to go to the local fish market, to find out what fish there are in the area. An Hours drive later (Through the most frustrating traffic you can imagine) I found myself at the Market. The first ting I noticed was Mountains of trash, right on the beach. Now don’t get me wrong, when I say Mountains I MEAN Mountains, You could load 20 Dump trucks and you wouldn’t have made an impact yet, I tried to snap a pic, but had some very upset policemen bouncing around and shouting at me in Portuguese, so I merely apologized and walked on down to the fish stalls.

There were a fair number of fish on display, from Large Cob and Tuna, right through to Sardines, And the Odd Squid as well. It was all very interesting, however the stench from the fish guts, used diapers, and beer cans was starting to get to me a bit. I tried once more to take a panoramic shot of the filth on the beach, and was again confronted (People in Angola don’t like having their photographs taken, And with about 200 people there, not getting someone in the shot was impossible, So I just took a pic of what was at my feet)

Large Tuna (Mambunda Market, Luanda Angola)

Garbage on the Beach (Mambunda Market, Luanda Angola)

That’s when i turned around and saw the one thing I’d hoped not to see, The head of a juvenile Mako Shark lying in the dirt, not 5 feet from where i was standing, I immediately went over and inspected it, my interest suddenly drawing a crowd, so some guy hoisted the butchered head out of the dirt, and put it on an up turned plastic dish, alongside what i can only assume to be the same sharks fins. I asked a few questions and here are the answers i got  (Answers in blue)

  • How often do you catch sharks? About 4 or 5 are caught each week.
  • Do you target them specifically, and if so what do you use for bait? No, they’re caught on our night lines we leave for Tuna.
  • What do you do with the meat? We Sell It.
  • Why do you cut off the fins? Who buys the fins? The Local Chinese people buy the fins, but don’t buy the meat, so we cut off the fins for them.

That’s when a Drunk local decided to butt in and start harassing myself and the people i was speaking to, so i moved on, As i continued my walk i found 2 more Mako Heads (No fins) and a Body that was being chopped up, but the guy doing the chopping refused that i take a photograph. At that point i was feeling a tad ill from the stench (and that’s saying something, because I rarely suffer from nausea) so i decided to conclude my wanderings, but stopped at the river which flows into the sea right next to the market for a quick snap of all the trash, not nearly as much as there was behind me, but the cops had their eyes on me the whole time, so that will have to do, next time i think i should use a spy cam or something, because these photographs don’t do it justice.

Mako Shark Head and Fins (Mambunda Market, Luanda Angola)

Mako Shark Head (Mambunda Market, Luanda Angola)

River running into the Ocean (Mambunda Market, Luanda Angola)

Just to finish off, Angola is a typical 3rd world country, war ravaged for decades and now finally at peace, however the way of life is genuinely poor, and pride in their country’s natural beauty basically does not exist.

The one Positive (if you can call it that) that I took away from my trip to the Market, is that Sharks aren’t targeted for their fins or their meat, they are a by-catch which is then used,  and as for the rumours that Dogs are being used as live bait in Angola, well there was certainly no evidence of that today.

Wish I could have reported better news, but unfortunately, This Is Africa, and the good news is that it could be worse…

  1. Hi Paul. Well done on getting down to the market & seeing for your self. Plastic is a curse ! Plastic means death for rivers and fish.

  2. ridgline says:

    great research and report, Its a shame that the upside is “it could be worse”

    • Paul says:

      Thankyou, really appreciated, And yeah, it is a terrible shame, The days of pristine beaches and Subsistance fishing are long gone i’m afraid, so now we must look for any hint of silver lining we can find, even if it is turning a mouldy green

  3. seathechange says:

    I agree with ridgline, and yourself. “Always look on the bright side”, as Monty Python used to say…
    If we don’t, we’re doomed.
    Good article, let’s hope things can improve out there.

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