Promoting healthy ecosystems to build resilience to climate change

Stories and experiences of Climate Change

Ernest Titus (Lamberts Bay, South Africa)

“My family has always been in the fishing business. I left school at 18 years old and joined my father as a fisherman. He could not keep the family going, so I had to contribute to the household income. Although this was not my vision and mission for life, in this situation I needed to do what is family and forefathers had done as a tradition over the years. Most people in Lamberts Bay had other ideas but we have little option but to continue the tradition.

We collect black and white mussels for bait. In the morning before sunrise the two of us will leave in our little boat which is 4 m long and travel a distance 15 nautical sea miles from home. The type of fish we mostly catch is the Hotnots fish as well as snoek and yellow tail (which are migratory fish). In the past we knew when the fish would be running. For example, we used to know when the north wind blows that that day we would get a good catch.

But over the last five years, things started to change. Even though the north wind would blow, the snoek would not be there. In the past the snoek would stay with us for 3 to 4 weeks, now we see we have it for one or two days. We used to catch the Hotnots fish, the bank fish which would lay the eggs and spawn in the area, but that also changed. What used to happen in October is shifting to other parts of the year. There is a shortage of oxygen in the ocean which contributes to crayfish walking out of the sea. The fish that you catch is soft. There are tropical fish in our waters that were never there in the past. The big trawlers used to come into our fishing grounds and this also influenced the number of fish we would catch. So what we would catch in only certain seasons – the trawlers always catch.

My own understanding of climate change is limited, but all I say is what happens to us as fishermen. Climate change seems to be beyond our individual control. We need to combine and hold hands across the work and begin to pray that support can come from divine beings. In West Coast we are asking government to come in and lend a hand so we can begin to look at alternatives to see what we can do. “

(Testimony presented at the Pan-African Hearing on Climate Change 5th October 2009)

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Posted: 12/7/2009 (5:03:52 AM)

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