In the state of Tamil Nadu, fishermen are finding it harder and harder to catch enough fish to support their families. They are staying out at sea longer and traveling further from home to search for species of fish that they say are not just less abundant but also possibly missing altogether. Overfishing, climate change, and pollution have caused fish catch to crash. Adult fish are scarce, and fishermen feel forced to catch and keep ever younger fish to make ends meet. Without a chance to breed, fish species will be pushed toward extinction.
To compound the pressure on this ecosystem on the brink of ecological collapse, even trawlers are moving closer to the shore, setting the stage for conflict with the traditional fishermen who are already struggling to hold on to their centuries of knowledge and technique to maintain a sustainable way of life. In summer 2016, we had the privilege of documenting the lives and struggles of this coastal community, as we try to unravel the global and local forces that are driving fish populations to collapse.
Our short and focused expedition to document the effects of overfishing on coastal communities draws parallels between what is happening in India to what is happening in many other countries.
We envision this work as the first in a series that shines a light on the imperative of expediting fisheries reform.