Inside an Ancient Fishing Technique Still Feeding People Today

(Photo by Manu San Felix)
Beach seine netting has fed the people of the Seychelles probably since they first arrived here, and their ancestors elsewhere for millennia before that. (Photo by Manu San Felix)

These days we might spend a fortune on carbon-fiber, Kevlar, stainless steel, highly tuned, expensive fishing gear. And let’s face it, it feels good to have the latest kit, but when it comes to actually catching fish for a living then it’s useful to remember that you don’t need much—only a couple of friends, a simple net, the knowledge of where the fish might be. And in my experience, it helps to be hungry!

All these lessons came home as we arrived in the Seychelles for the latest Pristine Seas expedition this week. We’re here to study and film the incredibly abundant and diverse life under the waves, but we know well that the things down there, feed the people up on land. Thankfully, here the local communities practice age-old techniques in sustainable ways (read the first post).

To get fresh mackerel to the local market the fishermen at Beau Vallon use beach seine netting—a wonderful thing to be part of. It’s simple, profitable, and because the Seychellois know their seas so well, it’s sustainable.

The materials are new, but the actions are old. (Photo by Manu San Felix)

We have been beach seine netting since the Stone Age and after eleven thousand years the only thing that has changed is that the nets are now made from lightweight nylon rather than flax, grass, and root fibers.

The technique is exactly the same. As we watched, an ancient tradition continued before our eyes. The pirogue was heaved into the surf, rowed 100 yards out and then parallel to the beach until instinct and experience told them where to drop the seaward central —> Read More