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Mozambique's fish under threat

Tim Judah discovers the effects of dynamite fishing, shark pirates and hungry locals as he travels the overexploited fishing coast of one of the world's poorest countries

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fisherman in Bazaruto
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Population: 18.02m
Annual population growth: 2.4%
Life expectancy: 47
Malnourishment: 26% of under fives
Adult illiteracy: 60%
Below national poverty line: 70% 
fishing boats
Most of Mozambique's fishing is small-scale
Mozambicans are amongst the poorest people on Earth.

The fast-growing population depends on fish products for half of its protein intake. And shrimp and prawn are one of the country’s few exports and foreign currency earners.

Overfishing is a problem all over Africa. So it is not surprising that Mozambique’s coast and marine resources are under threat, and that fish yields have plummeted.

Tens of thousands of local fishermen rely on the sea for their livelihoods, harvesting up to 95% of the country’s total catch.

A trip down the country’s long coastline reveals other threats to the fish stock – from marauding Tanzanian fishermen who have already fished out their own waters with dynamite to fishing trawlers from as far away as China.

Click on the map to trace the journey.

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