Fisherman Toughest Place to be a...


Fisherman

Cornish fisherman Andy Giles gives up his state of the art trawler to travel to the coast of Sierra Leone, where the fishing is done from a dugout canoe.


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Three British workers - a train driver,

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a bin man

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and a fisherman.

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They've all accepted the challenge to do their job

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in some of the toughest conditions on the planet.

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How safe is it to go through the breakers in the boat?

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If I said it was tough before, you could probably times that by 100.

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I'm so upset at what goes on here, I would like to go and knock them out, to tell you the truth.

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Cornish fisherman Andy Giles is swapping

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his state-of-the-art trawler

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for a dugout canoe in the rough seas off Sierra Leone.

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For a minute, I thought we were goners.

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I thought, "Oh, my God. Here we go". I thought I was going for a swim.

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3,000 miles from home,

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he'll discover a world where catching fish can be a matter of life and death.

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-I see another!

-Shake my hand.

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-Can we throw him back now?

-No, no, no!

-Ha-ha-ha-ha.

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He'll live in a remote African fishing village

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fighting for its survival,

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and he'll confront the foreign trawlers stealing their catch.

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Right, we'll go...there's one alongside here.

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We'll go...he can't run.

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Unbelievable, really, what these guys are getting away with.

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Unbelievable.

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Andy Giles has been fishing the seas off the Cornish coast for more than 20 years.

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Coming down, mate.

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At 40 years old,

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he's the proud skipper of the 100 tonne trawler, the Guiding Light.

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I've not always been a fisherman.

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I worked in a shop when I was younger,

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albeit a fish shop, but I didn't like it.

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I decided to go the other route and go catching the fish.

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You couldn't do the job if you didn't love it.

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I don't know...it's a way of life more than a job to me.

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When you put the nets away in the morning,

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you don't know what you're going to catch. It's a nice surprise.

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I still get excited now, a little bit, which is a bit strange and funny, I suppose, but...

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Costing £750,000,

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Andy's trawler is designed to take the strain out of fishing.

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On a good day, he can land more than £1,000 worth of fish.

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The monkfish, that's big value fish. Sea bass - big value fish.

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Quite happy with that, really. It's all right.

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Once on board, the catch is gutted,

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sorted, washed and put below decks ready for market.

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The Guiding Light is equipped with the latest technology to locate and hunt down the fish.

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There are also a few home comforts on board.

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Obviously, a nice chair, telly and the internet, it's all nice to have,

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because you're spending a lot of time here so, keep the boredom factor away as well, obviously.

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In a few days' time, Andy will be leaving his trawler and saying goodbye

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to the quiet Cornish village where he lives with his family.

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Count them. One, two, three, four, five, six.

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Are you counting all the fishies?

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He's heading off into the unknown with only his fishing skills to fall back on.

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It's a question of, "Can Andy hack it as a fisherman when everything's taken away from him?"

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Can I do it? I don't know. I'm going to have to wait and see. Hopefully I can.

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Sierra Leone, West Africa -

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a country of five million people on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

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This is one of the poorest countries in the world.

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Its large coastal population relies on one thing to stay alive -

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fish.

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Every day, thousands of subsistence fishermen put to sea in wooden canoes

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in a daily struggle to feed their families.

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Now, their way of life is under threat.

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Trawlers from as far afield as China are illegally plundering the coastal fishing grounds

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and leaving very little for the locals.

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Much of the country's fish finds its way to the tables

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of Europe and the Far East,

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yet more than a third of Sierra Leone's children are chronically malnourished.

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Just looks like there's nothing here at all.

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There's no buildings, there's no power lines, there's no... there's nothing, nothing at all.

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Andy is heading to the remote south of the country

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and a small fishing village called Mania.

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Whether they'll have painted faces and everything and dance round the fire in loincloths, I don't know,

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but I'm expecting the worst at the moment, to be honest, so...

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not that that's bad, but totally different, totally alien to what I'm used to.

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You sure someone lives here? I don't think there's anybody living here.

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Hey.

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Andy's hosts for the week will be Kabba Kaine...

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..and his cousin Ishmael.

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-Ishmael?

-Yes. How are you?

-I'm good. Are you good?

-Yeah, good.

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-OK. Plenty of fish?

-Yes.

-Good.

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Mania Village is home to around 100 people who, like Andy, make their living from the sea.

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Everybody from the village seems to have turned up to see

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who's the white man in the boat, so it was very nice.

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Kids wouldn't leave my hand go.

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Then one would let go and another one would fill in,

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so it's very, very friendly, to say the least, so it's...

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I didn't expect that, to be honest.

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-I have friends.

-Yes, they are.

-Lots of friends.

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For the next week, Andy will be living with Ishmael's family.

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-So, come with us, come and see.

-OK.

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-The bed.

-Yeah.

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-So welcome.

-Thank you very much.

-Thank you.

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-And these are all your kids?

-This is my daughter and this is my son.

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-You're sure they're not all yours?

-Yeah. No.

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He'll be joining one of Mania's ten boat crews

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and he's keen to get started.

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Can you show me the boat we're going to go to sea on?

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-The boat? Yes, I'm ready.

-OK, cool.

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Until now, Andy has no idea what kind of boat he'll be fishing from.

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Andy will be putting to sea in what is, in effect,

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a hollowed-out tree.

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-I see the boat has got a hole at the back, it's stitched together with twine at the back.

-Yeah.

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-The breakers here, yeah? Pushed the bottom of the boat in?

-Yes.

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The breakers which damaged Kabba's canoe mark the point

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where the river meets the ocean.

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Often rising up to four metres high,

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they form a daunting barrier to the open sea and the best fishing grounds.

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How safe is it to go through the breakers in a boat? Are you expecting me to do this?

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-I wouldn't like to go through the breakers in my boat.

-It not easy.

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Ishmael and Kabba have picked up on Andy's nervousness.

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In a boat like this? Zero.

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OK.

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In a boat, but not this sort of boat.

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-It was like this?

-No.

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Can I swim? Yeah.

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I can swim, yeah.

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It's beginning to dawn on Andy

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that all his fishing experience might not mean much out here.

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I don't suppose they have much faith in me and you have to prove yourself.

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Anybody can say, I'm a fisherman. I'll have to prove myself.

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I don't want to let anybody down or anything,

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so we'll have to see later on and see where it takes us.

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Kabba and Ishmael are also having their doubts about taking Andy through the breakers.

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Andy is going to have to get used to having fish for dinner

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and lunch and breakfast.

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It's very spicy.

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-Eat.

-I am eating, I'm eating.

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I have a small appetite.

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As Andy reflects on his first day in Sierra Leone,

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his semi-detached house in Cornwall is beginning to feel a long way away.

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I had tea - rice and spicy fish, which I wasn't too keen on.

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It's getting late, there's no electric, no lights on anywhere,

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there's no TV, there's no...there seems to be people milling around,

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but, erm, a very, very strange place to be, a very strange place.

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We'll see how tomorrow goes and hopefully it's, erm, OK.

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Overnight, the village fishermen have been busy.

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When do you sleep?

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So what is the plan for today?

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I understand that.

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OK. I don't wanna do that. No, I don't want to capsize and die.

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OK, I'm listening.

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Today, they're taking me out in the lagoon. They need to train me up.

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If I capsize the boat, they're in danger as well as me,

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so I've got to learn how to balance the boat, learn how to... what not to do, what to do,

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so, yeah, definitely, their safety as much as mine, so it's gonna be difficult.

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Despite 20 years' experience as a fisherman,

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Andy's going to have to start from scratch, with the kids.

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The kids that are rowing the boat, you know, they look like men.

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They're big and muscley. Is this from rowing all the time?

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The guy in front of me is about 14 years old

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and he's built like a brick shithouse.

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He's got muscles where you'd expect a bodybuilder to have muscles. He's just...

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Turn the boat!

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I keep falling off the seat, my pants are going up my bum.

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It's certainly not as comfy as the seat I've got on the boat.

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Turn! Turn it this way!

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OK, good.

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I must be doing this wrong. I've got a blister already.

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Sorry, yeah, yeah.

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APPLAUSE

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A round of applause. I must be doing something right(!)

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I thought I was in shape. I'm clearly not.

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Me? Hot.

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Little has changed in this fishing community for centuries.

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But the way of life here is now hanging in the balance.

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The rich fishing grounds along this coast are supposed to be protected.

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There's a five mile exclusion zone to keep out trawlers

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but, increasingly, big foreign boats are fishing illegally close to the shore,

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with tragic consequences for the villagers.

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Tragic story. It's...you know, you're fighting for a living,

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-they're wrecking everything for you.

-We suffer, we suffer, we suffer.

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Everybody's suffering because of these trawlers.

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I can't see the trawlers. They're not here now. When are they here?

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How anybody deals with having your loved ones, nephews,

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uncles, be killed at sea, it's just...it's shocking, really,

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and they're losing life.

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It just seems a free for all here, you know, for the big trawlers.

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Early next morning, Andy is about to see the problem first hand.

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So, Kabba's just knocked...woke me up.

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It's three o'clock and there's trawlers on the beach.

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But they do sound close.

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I can hear the engines.

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He's closer in than where we were yesterday.

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Kabba and Ishmael were about to go night fishing

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before they spotted the two illegal trawlers working under cover of darkness.

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You can't go now?

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You can't go because he's there.

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-There's another one here, but he's turned his lights off.

-Yeah.

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He's being sneaky. Sneaky - lights.

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But he's even closer. Is he...?

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The trawlers make it too dangerous to go out fishing.

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FRUSTRATED SIGH

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Andy is realising that in this part of the world,

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trawlermen are public enemy number one, and that gives him a problem.

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I need to tell Kabba and Ishmael that, erm, I am a trawlerman,

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that I own a trawler, which is going to be difficult.

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I'm not sure how they're going to take it.

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It's going to be difficult.

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I'm hoping that they accept

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that I'm not the same as the trawlermen here,

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but I don't know when to tell them or how to tell them, you know?

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Do I drop it into a conversation

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or do I actually make a point of bringing it up?

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I think that's probably the best thing,

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tell them that I've got something to tell them

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and make sure they haven't got a knife in their hand

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or a shovel or a big stick or something!

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-Here.

-Yeah.

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-Cut the tail off?

-Yes, do it.

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The following morning, while cutting up fish for bait, Andy decides to come clean.

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There's, erm, something that's quite awkward that I need to talk to you about.

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The type of fishing I do back home in England,

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which may sound a bit awkward,

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but I hope you'll understand when I tell you I own a trawler.

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My fishing is trawling. That is what I do.

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I don't do this.

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I understand that when you hear the word trawler,

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that it fills you with hatred.

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I wouldn't ever do what was happening on your shore. That wouldn't happen.

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I wouldn't do that and I wouldn't...

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..it wouldn't happen in our country.

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We wouldn't want to ruin anybody's living by towing gear away,

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by causing loss of life, it just wouldn't happen.

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OK.

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OK. Happy.

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-Happy?

-Yeah.

-Good. I'm glad.

-Yeah.

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I was a bit, sort of, dreading telling them

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that I was a trawlerman, for obvious reasons,

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but they seem to have taken it very well.

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I'm glad of that.

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I could have been packing my bags and swimming home,

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so it's good that they've accepted me still.

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After clearing the air,

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it's time for Andy to have his first taste of fishing, Sierra Leone-style.

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So what's this for?

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Well, this is the sail.

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-What's it made of?

-Plastic.

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-Plastic?

-Yes.

-This looks like an umbrella.

-Yes, it is umbrella.

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-Umbrella and plastic. All mixed up.

-OK!

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-And this looks like a plastic bag here.

-Yes.

-OK.

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I did a little bit of sailing when I was younger,

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so I'll see if I can remember, OK?

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OK.

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-OK, remember.

-Yes.

-Yes.

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The whole operation that they seem to have got, the rig and everything,

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is all on such a shoestring, it's unbelievable.

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There's bits of umbrella, plastic bags,

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everything is just cobbled together

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with things washed up on the beach or they've found on the land that someone's left behind before.

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Everything is put to good use.

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-It's hot today, isn't it?

-It is.

-It's about 30 degrees today, at least, I would think.

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Sweat is just running off me, man.

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Kabba and Ishmael are setting a punishing pace.

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And Andy is struggling to keep up.

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It's easier standing up, to be honest.

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Sitting down just does your knees in, your legs in, your elbows in.

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The road? Ah, the road, the road out through?

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The gateway, yeah?

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Andy's about to tackle the breakers for the first time.

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It's more than two miles out to the breakers.

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Andy's already exhausted, but the only safe way through is at speed.

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Ah, Jesus!

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THEY CHUCKLE

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Oh dear.

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The breakers are behind them. Now it's time to fish.

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The lines are set, and all they can do is wait.

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That's not a good start.

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You spend all morning baiting hooks up and cutting bait

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and then they catch nothing, it's just... poor, very, very poor.

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Feel for them, really.

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If Ishmael and Kabba don't catch any fish,

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their extended families will go hungry.

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I'm just getting more demoralised.

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I'm just hoping we catch a couple of fish in a minute. There's still a few hooks to go, so...

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The foreign trawlers have done their damage.

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As a trawlerman himself, Andy knows the impact they can have.

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He's on, unfortunately, prime trawling ground,

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so the trawler's probably been in in the night, two or three boats here,

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and... what they haven't scooped up,

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they've chased away, so that's why there's nothing here.

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But the trawlers didn't get everything.

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So we have one.

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That's not gonna go very far between 30 people.

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It's time to head home,

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and, with the tide turning, the breakers are rising.

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Their safe passage now depends on the sail made out of plastic bags and umbrellas.

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They must stay ahead of the breakers, or the canoe will capsize.

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For a minute there, I thought we were goners.

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Wow...

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But a breaker picked us up, boat started to heel

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and then we're broadside onto the breaker, and it was...

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my heart was going ten to the dozen, I was, oh!

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I thought, "Oh my God, here we go". I thought I was gonna go for a swim,

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but luckily Kabba, fantastic captain today.

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Some hairy moments, so...

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-Yeah, I'm a good captain.

-You are the only captain.

-Yeah, yeah, yeah!

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Andy has survived his first encounter with the breakers,

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but the poor catch has driven home how illegal trawling affects the villagers of Mania.

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I feel their anger, but what can you do?

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You've got a wood canoe, basically, against a 30 metre steel trawler.

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They're not gonna do anything at all. They can't do anything.

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They've already lost one life, how can they lose any more?

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They can't do it, so... it's such a shame.

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I feel like I wanna help out by some means,

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cos these are good, good men,

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just working to provide for their family, so...

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-No fish, so...

-Yeah, no fish.

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Next morning,

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and the only thing for breakfast is what's left of yesterday's rice.

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-Eat!

-I'm eating.

-Good.

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Everyone is talking about the poor catch.

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A small loan would feed his family,

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but Kabba is already heavily in debt

0:28:060:28:09

from replacing nets destroyed by the trawlers.

0:28:090:28:13

Blimey, that's tough.

0:28:130:28:15

He owes more than nine months' earnings.

0:28:150:28:18

I understand that. Blimey.

0:28:290:28:31

-You understand?

-Yes.

-OK.

0:28:310:28:33

-So no feel bad.

-No, OK. No.

0:28:330:28:37

-Yes.

-OK, OK.

0:28:370:28:38

'I have to go to sea'

0:28:390:28:40

to pay to feed my family, but it's nothing like that, I'm afraid.

0:28:400:28:46

What I go through is nothing.

0:28:460:28:48

We'd always get by, and there's always...

0:28:480:28:50

if you go on the dole, the government give you money anyway, so...

0:28:500:28:54

If these don't go to work, that's it, they cease to exist, so...

0:28:540:28:58

It's a little bit different.

0:28:590:29:01

A lot different, in fact, so...yeah.

0:29:010:29:04

Without fish to sell,

0:29:050:29:07

the villagers can't afford the most basic necessities.

0:29:070:29:11

And Andy is about to learn just how precarious life is in Mania village.

0:29:110:29:16

-Malaria?

-Yes, malaria.

0:29:310:29:33

-Yes.

-Do children die in this village from catching malaria?

0:29:330:29:36

Makes it all real, then, doesn't it? Blimey.

0:29:520:29:55

'You think, if your own daughter's ill, it's...'

0:29:560:29:59

Dunno, it's...

0:30:020:30:04

..hugely, hugely upsetting.

0:30:060:30:08

Just makes you think of home and stuff so...

0:30:100:30:13

OK.

0:30:130:30:14

HE CLEARS THROAT

0:30:140:30:16

It seems to me that the children are suffering more than anybody else, or they suffer first,

0:30:290:30:33

they're the...

0:30:330:30:35

It's very shocking, and it sounds like everybody has lost a child.

0:30:370:30:41

Luckily today, there is medicine for Ishmael's daughter,

0:30:440:30:49

but the future of her community and thousands like it along the West African coast

0:30:490:30:54

won't be secure until illegal trawling is controlled.

0:30:540:30:57

It just feels like you wanna, I wanna help out more,

0:30:570:31:00

I wanna...

0:31:000:31:02

Actually, I will try, but it's...

0:31:020:31:04

Feel for them.

0:31:060:31:08

Freetown.

0:31:160:31:17

The capital of Sierra Leone.

0:31:170:31:19

Here, the trawlers transfer their catch onto bigger ships to be frozen

0:31:190:31:24

and shipped around the world, including Europe.

0:31:240:31:28

The trawlers are only interested in high-value fish,

0:31:280:31:32

all the rest, including thousands of tons that local people could eat, are thrown away.

0:31:320:31:37

It's a multi-million pound business.

0:31:370:31:40

Andy has decided to go and confront the trawlermen about the impact they have on the villagers.

0:31:410:31:49

So we're off to Freetown to hopefully see the trawlers that we've seen in the darkness.

0:31:490:31:54

Whether they will let us aboard the boats, I don't know -

0:31:540:31:57

I doubt it, but if we can blag our way on some way, we will.

0:31:570:32:02

So I'm hoping I can sort of say I'm a fisherman from the UK and they might let me on,

0:32:020:32:06

but I'm gonna have to hold these two back when we get there, I think,

0:32:060:32:10

cos they could be stepping aboard to have a word with the skipper, so...

0:32:100:32:13

Do you think we'll be able to get aboard these boats?

0:32:200:32:24

Yes. I hope so.

0:32:240:32:26

So these are the same vessels, yes?

0:32:260:32:28

-Yeah.

-You think so? This big one out here?

0:32:280:32:31

-This big one.

-How do you feel, to see the trawlers up close?

0:32:310:32:35

The only way for Andy to get out to speak to the trawler skippers is to hire a local motorised canoe.

0:32:490:32:54

So you can see that Kabba's getting very...animated,

0:33:010:33:05

getting very excited about seeing the trawlers up close.

0:33:050:33:08

I hope the skipper doesn't come out the wheelhouse,

0:33:080:33:11

cos he could be jumping over and having a dust-up!

0:33:110:33:13

As they approach, the first trawler weighs anchor.

0:33:160:33:20

You can see he's turning.

0:33:240:33:26

He's trying to evade us, definitely.

0:33:260:33:30

There's one alongside here. We'll go, he can't run. He can't run.

0:33:350:33:39

The crew of the second trawler aren't interested in talking either.

0:33:400:33:43

And they seem prepared to do anything to keep Andy away from their boat.

0:33:510:33:56

They obviously don't want us to film,

0:33:560:33:58

cos they're firing catapults at us now.

0:33:580:34:01

Whoa, whoa, whoa.

0:34:060:34:07

Whoa, whoa.

0:34:070:34:08

He's firing a catapult from us, he's firing stones off the deck

0:34:100:34:13

or bits of steel off the deck, firing at us to get us to go.

0:34:130:34:17

Ishmael and Kabba are saying that this is what happens

0:34:270:34:30

when they get near them at sea. When they row up

0:34:300:34:32

in their little boats, they're on the big boat, firing stones at them.

0:34:320:34:35

It's unbelievable, it should be the other way round.

0:34:350:34:38

Can't believe how close that was. It's quite hairy, someone firing ball bearings at you.

0:34:400:34:44

They obviously know what they're doing is totally, totally out of order, and...

0:34:440:34:49

wrong.

0:34:490:34:51

Andy has discovered how powerless the fishermen feel.

0:34:530:34:57

Lack of resources and corruption mean that the government here

0:34:570:35:01

does little to enforce the fishing laws.

0:35:010:35:04

In Mania, Kabba and Ishmael are now desperate to land some fish.

0:35:290:35:33

This side is for the...

0:35:330:35:35

Push.

0:35:370:35:38

Push?

0:35:380:35:39

OK.

0:35:390:35:40

To make it float, you know, they've got a flip-flop cut in half,

0:35:400:35:45

it's obviously been well worn, look, a big hole in it.

0:35:450:35:48

Bits of polystyrene.

0:35:480:35:50

I've got to tie it back.

0:35:500:35:52

-You're gonna tie it down?

-To make it strong.

0:35:520:35:54

-So it doesn't move up and down the pole.

-Yes.

0:35:540:35:57

Ingenious, yeah, it's very good,

0:35:570:35:58

making use of what you have...

0:35:580:36:00

the resources you have, isn't it? It's good.

0:36:000:36:04

No, at home that would be all in the skip and they'd be using new floats.

0:36:040:36:07

Fishermen the world over are notoriously superstitious

0:36:080:36:12

and Ishmael and Kabba are no exception.

0:36:120:36:14

When all else fails, they head for a special part of the lagoon.

0:36:160:36:20

-I'm going to show you the place.

-Yes, the place. Secret place.

0:36:200:36:23

-Yes.

-He's gonna show me the secret place where we're gonna fish.

0:36:230:36:27

Heading into the lagoon,

0:36:280:36:30

Andy's beginning to look like part of the crew.

0:36:300:36:33

There's a shipwreck there, near where we're heading for. You can see its mast. Big ship?

0:36:340:36:39

This way?

0:36:400:36:42

Yes.

0:36:420:36:44

Throw that in the...

0:36:440:36:46

Bismillah.

0:36:460:36:47

-Go get 'em!

-Yes.

0:36:480:36:50

How old is the boat now?

0:36:520:36:54

No, OK.

0:36:580:37:00

Yes.

0:37:000:37:01

Kabba has fixed the leak with a...

0:37:010:37:04

Well, I don't know what he's fixed it with. It's part of his trousers, by the look of it.

0:37:040:37:08

Yeah. He's pulled the hem off his trousers and stuck it in the hole to stop it leaking, so...

0:37:080:37:13

It's worked!

0:37:130:37:14

And we're still here, we're still afloat, so...

0:37:140:37:17

So are we gonna paddle now to the other end of the net?

0:37:170:37:21

Drift together with the net, OK.

0:37:210:37:24

We started off next to the shipwreck, which is there.

0:37:240:37:26

I would think we've covered about a mile already.

0:37:260:37:29

The strong current has swept the net away out through the breakers.

0:37:290:37:35

The crew set off in pursuit.

0:37:350:37:37

So we're heading in through the breakers, which is gonna be hairy.

0:37:420:37:45

Paddle?

0:37:480:37:49

Yeah, Andy, that is good!

0:38:110:38:13

Out here in the trawling grounds, Ishmael isn't feeling hopeful.

0:38:270:38:31

So you're not expecting many fish?

0:38:330:38:35

That's a shame.

0:38:350:38:37

No.

0:38:390:38:40

What they used to do back in England probably in the '70s.

0:38:420:38:46

Oh! Another one, yeah?

0:38:460:38:48

It's there, yes, there, yes, there!

0:38:480:38:51

Whoa!

0:38:540:38:55

That's good.

0:38:580:38:59

-Is that good, yes?

-Yes.

0:39:060:39:08

-Good fish.

-Good fish.

-Happy?

-Yeah, happy now.

0:39:080:39:10

-Good, you're happy. As long as you're happy.

-I start to happy.

0:39:100:39:13

I'm happy now, yeah, happy now we've caught a fish.

0:39:150:39:18

We need to see another one now.

0:39:180:39:20

-Spanish.

-Spanish?

-Yes.

0:39:200:39:22

Hey!

0:39:250:39:27

Hey! There he is.

0:39:290:39:30

Spanish! Hey!

0:39:300:39:32

OK. Shall I throw him back now?

0:39:350:39:37

No, no, no, no!

0:39:370:39:38

THEY LAUGH

0:39:380:39:39

-That's a good fish.

-Yeah.

0:39:470:39:49

-Is that Spanish?

-It's Spanish.

0:39:490:39:51

I'm so happy now with this.

0:39:510:39:53

They probably think I was a right Jonah, they wouldn't bring me again.

0:39:530:39:56

But we've caught some fish, they're happy, so that's good. I'm pleased for them.

0:39:560:40:00

Yeah, another fish.

0:40:000:40:03

It's beautiful but it's such hard work.

0:40:030:40:05

For once, the trawlers seem to have left them a decent catch.

0:40:080:40:12

No.

0:40:140:40:15

THEY SING

0:40:190:40:22

We've travelled about ten minutes and I'm absolutely knackered.

0:40:310:40:35

Legs are hurting, my bum's hurting and my arms are hurting.

0:40:390:40:43

Still they carry on paddling,

0:40:430:40:45

and all jolly, and I'm like, "Oh, Jesus".

0:40:450:40:48

To prove himself a fully fledged member of Kabba's crew,

0:40:510:40:55

Andy has to dig deep and help bring the catch home across the breakers.

0:40:550:41:00

-What?

-More and more and more.

0:41:150:41:17

Yeah, we are crossing now.

0:41:260:41:28

OK.

0:41:290:41:31

Yeah, yeah.

0:41:390:41:40

Go along the sand.

0:41:420:41:44

My ass is killing me.

0:41:460:41:48

-It's hard work, that is.

-Yeah. Nice one.

0:41:540:41:56

-Eh? Some fish? Yeah, we got some fish.

-Fish, yeah.

0:41:570:42:00

-You happy?

-Yeah. Tomorrow...

-Fish for breakfast.

-Yes, yes, yes.

0:42:000:42:04

Go.

0:42:040:42:05

-OK.

-All right.

0:42:080:42:10

The fishing is good. Getting there and back is not so good.

0:42:130:42:16

THEY LAUGH

0:42:160:42:19

-Whoa!

-My legs hurt...

-Whoa.

-..my knees hurt from inside the boat rubbing when you're rowing.

0:42:230:42:28

My ass hurts from every time you row, your bum moves on the seat, so my bum is numb.

0:42:280:42:33

Feels good now to have gone out and actually caught some fish, so now we can actually eat tonight.

0:42:330:42:38

I felt a bit guilty, and them saying there's no rice left.

0:42:380:42:41

They didn't say it but you could tell they were leaning towards the fact

0:42:410:42:45

cos they had an extra mouth to feed, so to actually contribute now is... It feels good.

0:42:450:42:51

It was a bit hairy a few times, a wave come over the side and stuff and half-filled up with water

0:42:510:42:56

but we've made it back in one piece so it's all good.

0:42:560:42:58

One, two, three, four, five, six.

0:43:070:43:09

-We had more than six, yeah?

-Yes.

-OK.

0:43:090:43:14

There's always healthy competition between fishermen. It's no different from home.

0:43:140:43:18

You're always trying to compete and trying to be the best. Their brother's boat has just come in,

0:43:180:43:23

three of them, experienced fishermen, exactly the same amount of net,

0:43:230:43:26

exactly the same time at sea, and they've caught six fish and we have seven and bigger fish,

0:43:260:43:32

so I think the boys are happy, which is good.

0:43:320:43:35

Might get extra rice tonight.

0:43:350:43:38

-Two cups of tea tomorrow.

-Yeah, yeah, yeah.

-OK?

0:43:380:43:41

-THEY LAUGH

-Whoo!

0:43:410:43:44

This way?

0:43:440:43:46

But a Mania fisherman's duties aren't over when the fish is landed.

0:43:460:43:50

-That, all that on my head?

-Yeah.

0:43:500:43:52

-Oh, yeah, I can try...

-Yeah.

-..but I might drop them.

0:43:520:43:55

Well, I don't know. I don't carry things on my head.

0:43:570:44:01

-Never?

-Never.

-Try.

-Try.

-Yeah, but...

0:44:010:44:03

# Bet you're going fishing all of your time

0:44:120:44:15

# Baby going fishing too... #

0:44:150:44:18

They're three fish about 20 pound in weight.

0:44:210:44:25

-It's actually not heavy, it's just...

-Is it heavy? It's not...

-It's flattening the top of my head.

0:44:250:44:30

-Try, try.

-Try.

0:44:320:44:34

# I'm-a going fishing

0:44:340:44:35

# Yes, I'm going fishing... #

0:44:350:44:37

-Eh? I can't carry this all that way, no way.

-Oh?

0:44:370:44:40

-No chance. I can't...

-Take it.

-No, I can't carry it that far, no.

-No, no.

-Yeah.

0:44:400:44:44

-You lazy!

-I'm not lazy, it's not lazy.

0:44:490:44:52

-I've carried six back. I've carried six.

-You carried six?

-Yes, when we had to...

0:44:520:44:56

Women have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight,

0:44:560:45:00

-nine, ten, 11, 12.

-Oh, one dozen.

-One dozen.

0:45:000:45:03

# Yes, I'm going fishing And my baby going fishing too

0:45:030:45:08

# Baby brother about to Run me out of my mind saying

0:45:080:45:10

# "Can I go fishing with you?"

0:45:100:45:14

# I took him on down To the fishing hole... #

0:45:140:45:17

Do it like this.

0:45:170:45:19

That's the stomach of the fish, is it? Is this the stomach?

0:45:220:45:26

-Yes.

-What do you do with that?

0:45:260:45:27

They eat it? Blimey. They'll eat anything.

0:45:290:45:32

The fishermen have come home triumphant

0:45:410:45:44

but Andy is counting the cost.

0:45:440:45:46

Well, the blister count is up one, I think.

0:45:480:45:50

I have one here from hauling the nets,

0:45:500:45:53

I have one here from hauling the long lines, I have one here,

0:45:530:45:57

so we're up to five, so we're doing well.

0:45:570:46:01

Hopefully get to double figures by the end of the week, so...

0:46:010:46:04

The smokehouses of Mania Village work round the clock.

0:46:190:46:23

Yesterday's haul of seven fish was more than enough to feed the families,

0:46:230:46:27

so the rest can be sold for badly needed cash.

0:46:270:46:31

They're smoking the fish to preserve it.

0:46:310:46:33

Obviously fresh fish in Africa is not going to last,

0:46:330:46:36

cos there's no fridges, there's no freezers and no ice,

0:46:360:46:39

so fresh fish is not going to be fresh for more than probably four or five hours, less than that,

0:46:390:46:44

two or three hours in the sun, so they need to smoke the fish to preserve it,

0:46:440:46:48

to keep it for the end of the week,

0:46:480:46:51

cos then the market is at the end of the week.

0:46:510:46:54

It's time to head off in search of wood for the smokehouse.

0:47:020:47:07

Here? Yeah, here? Uh-huh. Oh.

0:47:070:47:11

They don't stop, they're machines.

0:47:250:47:27

I've just had a go at it.

0:47:270:47:29

The wood is like bloody concrete.

0:47:290:47:32

I'm knackered after cutting one, well, two things.

0:47:320:47:34

I'm absolutely shattered. My hands are hurting.

0:47:340:47:37

I'm going to sound like a right jessie when this goes out at home. It's going to be...

0:47:370:47:41

But they don't stop.

0:47:410:47:43

Look, he's up the blinking tree doing it now. It's just...

0:47:430:47:47

Timber!

0:47:490:47:51

Voila.

0:47:510:47:52

They're fisherman they're tree surgeons, they're builders,

0:47:520:47:57

they're net makers.

0:47:570:47:59

It's just, you know... They're...

0:47:590:48:02

They'd give Steve Redgrave a good run for his money in a rowing boat.

0:48:020:48:05

It's just... They just don't stop.

0:48:050:48:08

I'm cutting, I'm cutting.

0:48:140:48:16

-Yeah, OK.

-Cup of tea.

-Cup of tea.

0:48:230:48:26

-HE LAUGHS:

-Yeah, yeah.

0:48:260:48:28

-Fatima, me carry?

-Yeah.

0:48:310:48:33

Yes?

0:48:330:48:34

Fatima, Ishmael's wife, is the boss of the smokehouse.

0:48:340:48:38

-OK?

-Mmm.

0:48:380:48:40

You're going to carry more?

0:48:400:48:42

-OK?

-Mmm.

0:48:470:48:50

Going to carry more?

0:48:500:48:51

Yeah.

0:48:510:48:53

Blimey. I feel so inadequate now.

0:48:550:48:59

It's very, very heavy wood.

0:48:590:49:02

I could carry a bit more than this but not much,

0:49:020:49:04

and look what she's carrying. It's unbelievable.

0:49:040:49:08

Fatima keeps the smokehouse running,

0:49:110:49:14

turning the catch into a commodity that is the staple diet across Sierra Leone.

0:49:140:49:18

It's damn hot in here.

0:49:210:49:23

See the mouth here and the mouth here,

0:49:350:49:38

so it's been it's literally been peeled apart in two halves.

0:49:380:49:41

It doesn't look that appetising with all the bugs crawling all over it.

0:49:410:49:45

It's just alive with things.

0:49:450:49:46

-Really?

-Mmm.

-OK.

0:49:510:49:53

Wow. So I've actually been eating this all week.

0:49:550:49:59

I can't really believe it but it must taste OK,

0:49:590:50:02

cos I haven't complained, so you must be a good cook.

0:50:020:50:07

-A good cook.

-Good cook, yeah.

-Yes.

0:50:070:50:10

So what a horrible place to be. I've been down there ten minutes

0:50:110:50:15

and I'm covered in black and the smoke's just got to my eyes.

0:50:150:50:20

It's incredibly hot in there.

0:50:200:50:22

It's not a nice place to be for ten minutes, let alone for all day,

0:50:220:50:26

smoking the fish, which is what she does. Fatima's in there.

0:50:260:50:29

When they catch the fish, she splits it, she then takes it in there

0:50:290:50:34

and looks after it, stokes the fire, collects the wood.

0:50:340:50:36

It's a really, really long process, what she's doing,

0:50:360:50:40

which is a total contrast to what I do at home.

0:50:400:50:43

We catch the fish, we gut the fish, we come in in the evening,

0:50:430:50:47

we chuck the fish ashore, that's the last we see of it.

0:50:470:50:49

It's done, it's all sold, it's all weighed and iced

0:50:490:50:52

and packed away and everything's done for us.

0:50:520:50:56

Can you imagine if I took a boxful of fish home for my wife

0:50:560:50:59

and said, "Here you are, crack on with that lot,

0:50:590:51:01

"you've got to get that smoked by the end of the week"?

0:51:010:51:04

She would just be like, "Bugger off, I'm off." She'd be gone.

0:51:040:51:07

No, I don't think she'd be doing that.

0:51:070:51:10

To feed and support 100 people solely on what comes out of the sea

0:51:140:51:18

involves relentless graft from everyone in the village.

0:51:180:51:22

If they came and worked this hard in England, they'd be rich people

0:51:250:51:31

because they just work and they work

0:51:310:51:33

and then they work some more and...

0:51:330:51:37

Fatima today - fantastic. Three kids to look after,

0:51:380:51:42

she's cooked everybody breakfast, she's then done the washing

0:51:420:51:48

and then she's got down and got wood and chopped the wood

0:51:480:51:50

and then she's got water and then she's smoked all the fish,

0:51:500:51:54

you know, 40 hours a week.

0:51:540:51:56

They would do 40 hours in a day if it was possible.

0:51:560:51:59

After a week in the village, today Andy,

0:52:250:52:27

Kabba and Ishmael will be taking their dried fish to market.

0:52:270:52:31

The boat's 40 feet long and there's probably 50 people crammed on here.

0:52:500:52:55

Everybody's week's worth of fish.

0:52:550:52:57

It's just absolute carnage, and there's chickens on here.

0:52:570:53:00

Health And Safety in England would never pass this many people on this boat, absolutely never.

0:53:000:53:07

Fish accounts for 70% of the animal protein consumed in Sierra Leone.

0:53:070:53:12

Local fishermen come to the market in Yagoi to sell their catch.

0:53:120:53:17

So, Ishmael and Kabba are trying to organise something to try and get the fish to shore, but...

0:53:170:53:22

there's no room for anything. There's no room to stand, hardly.

0:53:220:53:25

It is absolute chaos.

0:53:250:53:27

Kabba thinks he's found a buyer for the fish.

0:53:290:53:34

How much will it be?

0:53:380:53:40

We think they're worth 260,000, yes?

0:53:400:53:43

-Yes. 260.

-Can't pay that.

0:53:430:53:45

You not pay that? No. You tell how much.

0:53:450:53:48

-120.

-No!

0:53:490:53:51

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

0:53:510:53:54

No! I've got blisters for these fish. These fish cost me these blisters.

0:53:540:54:00

How much? Nine?

0:54:000:54:02

Well...

0:54:030:54:04

250.

0:54:050:54:06

-It's too much.

-Too much?

-Yeah.

0:54:060:54:09

Three big men, look. Look. I need to eat.

0:54:090:54:14

What they saying? 190?

0:54:140:54:16

-180.

-190.

-180.

-190.

0:54:160:54:18

-Yes.

-Yes?

0:54:180:54:20

Yeah.

0:54:200:54:21

Yes. She's agreed.

0:54:210:54:24

70, 80. 80? We said 90.

0:54:260:54:29

-Ten more.

-We never said 80, we said 90.

0:54:290:54:31

90. OK.

0:54:310:54:33

-Thank you.

-Thank you.

0:54:330:54:35

-It's good.

-Yes? OK, it's good?

0:54:350:54:37

-Yes.

-Good. Happy?

-Yeah, happy.

-Good, good.

0:54:370:54:40

So the money we have for the fish is...

0:54:410:54:44

30 quid. So they need to split that six ways.

0:54:440:54:47

They split it one each for the fishermen,

0:54:470:54:50

which apparently I'm one of them, so that's three gone.

0:54:500:54:55

There's one for the transport,

0:54:550:54:57

one for the smoking house

0:54:570:55:00

and one for the nets and stuff, so that's six.

0:55:000:55:05

That's a fiver. So I've worked for a fiver for a week.

0:55:050:55:09

The guys have done the same, fiver each for the week.

0:55:090:55:12

It's...a fiver.

0:55:120:55:16

So hard for them. So, so hard.

0:55:180:55:20

Heartbreaking to see what they've gone through and this is just one week.

0:55:200:55:24

This might have been a good week for them.

0:55:240:55:26

It's heartbreaking how hard they work. I'd like to take them on.

0:55:260:55:29

They could work for me any day of the week,

0:55:290:55:31

because these guys just, well, they don't know when they're beaten.

0:55:310:55:36

They'll just carry on and on and on and on

0:55:360:55:38

and, you know... hat off to them.

0:55:380:55:41

Opened my eyes to a whole new culture,

0:56:060:56:09

a whole new understanding of things that are elsewhere in the world.

0:56:090:56:13

How these people struggle in day-to-day life.

0:56:130:56:16

When I'm at home, we just get on the boat and I go to sea and I come home

0:56:160:56:19

and I go to sea and I come home and I don't really think about it,

0:56:190:56:22

but now...I'll be thinking about it a lot.

0:56:220:56:25

They're two amazing guys.

0:56:270:56:29

Everything they get comes from hard work, graft

0:56:290:56:34

and then sometimes even through that hard work and graft they don't get anything.

0:56:340:56:38

I've brought you here to buy you a net.

0:56:410:56:45

-You lost a lot of net to the trawler

-Yeah. Yeah.

0:56:450:56:47

I'm buying it, so you know that all trawlermen are not the same, OK?

0:56:470:56:52

Cos I am a trawler man. OK?

0:56:520:56:53

-So happy.

-OK?

-So happy.

-OK, good.

-I'm so happy.

-OK?

0:56:530:56:57

-You know.

-OK?

-The community will be happy.

0:56:570:56:59

Yes. Good. OK? Anyway, thanks for looking after me, yeah?

0:56:590:57:02

-Thank you for that. Thanks.

-OK?

-So happy.

-Yes, good.

0:57:020:57:06

They're like two kids in a sweet shop -

0:57:080:57:10

big smiles on their faces, don't know what to spend their money on next.

0:57:100:57:15

-No more angry.

-No more angry?

0:57:160:57:18

-No more, no more.

-Good, I don't want to see you angry.

0:57:180:57:21

Two fantastic guys.

0:57:240:57:25

I couldn't have wished to be away with anybody else, really.

0:57:250:57:28

Really taken to them.

0:57:280:57:29

They're two good friends I've got, I think,

0:57:290:57:32

so hopefully they feel the same way, but I'm sure they do.

0:57:320:57:35

Next time, a British train driver goes to Peru in South America

0:57:460:57:51

to drive a train in one of the highest places on earth.

0:57:510:57:55

The biggest problem's the view down there. The drop. Ah!

0:57:550:57:59

He'll sample Peruvian culture...

0:57:590:58:01

I don't suppose they do jam on toast here either, do they?

0:58:010:58:05

..before taking his life in his hands with a 2,000 ton train

0:58:050:58:09

down the steepest railway in the world.

0:58:090:58:11

I'm just sort of figuring out which brakes are which.

0:58:110:58:15

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:58:290:58:32

E-mail [email protected]

0:58:320:58:35

Cornish fisherman Andy Giles gives up his state of the art trawler to travel to the coast of Sierra Leone, where the fishing is done from a dugout canoe.

Living in a small community of mud huts, Andy discovers a very different way of life where a bad day's fishing means a hungry family. Even this precarious lifestyle is now under threat from foreign trawlers that fish illegally in the villagers' waters, taking their fish, destroying their nets and sometimes even sinking their canoes, with tragic consequences.

Through the international language of the fisherman, Andy develops a lasting friendship with his hosts, in a film which highlights the plight of subsistence fishermen around the world.


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