Fishing has been an integral element of the economy of Sierra Leone’s Sherbro Coast for at least the past 500 years, and during the present century it has become the dominant economic activity for most communities throughout the region. Two principal types of fishing are practiced. In the traditional mostly subsistence type, small crews of one to three fishermen in dugout canoes use a variety of hook-and-line techniques to exploit a broad range of marine species and habitats. In the more recently evolved, capital-intensive, market-oriented type crews of ten to twelve in what are locally referred to as “Ghana boats,” with outboard motors, use commercially manufactured nylon ring nets to catch two main species. The two types of fishing are associated with different ethnic groups. Ghana boat fishing has brought with it larger households and dietary changes. The shift toward commodity production of fish parallels shifts toward commercial cashcropping in agriculture. In many agrarian societies this shift has been accompanied by long-term declining food security and deterioration of local diets. This has not been the case in the maritime economy of the Sherbro Coast.


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pp. 49-76
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