Seychelles: The Tale of Lake Victoria's 'Saviour Fish'

An aerial view of Lake Victoria’s shore in Bukoba town. The section with sand acts as a beach for revellers, although it is poorly maintained.

On an island in Lake Victoria, Tanzania, fishermen are barely eking out a living, where a crisis due to a combination of factors, including climate change and overfishing, has changed the fabric of the community. Journalist Mark Weston spent two years living on Ukerewe Island and wrote The Saviour Fish, a very personal account of their situation.

The island was the hub of a fishing boom centered around Nile perch, an invasive species of fish introduced by former colonial power, Britain. Weston discusses in the book how this one move turned from boom to bust, creating an environmental disaster after other fish species were eliminated, allowing waterborne diseases to thrive.

Weston becomes friends with a number of illegal fishermen and is invited to fish with them-- an honour to be invited to go-- where he describes firsthand their quest to find a decent catch away from the government patrols on the lake, but also observes the destructive impact of using large drag nets.

Mixing travel writing with environmental reportage, Weston's The Saviour Fish illustrates the fishermen's plight, but also the beauty of day-to-day life, with love, loss, and curious children.

He spoke to RFI's Laura Angela Bagnetto.

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