Tag Archives: film

La Pirogue – stolen fish and refugees


“Y’a plus de personnes ici, y’a plus de poissons.”

“No more people here, no more fish,” says one of the characters in La Pirogue, the Senegalese film directed by Moussa Touré, selected for Un Certain Regard, Cannes 2012.

Here’s a clip from La Pirogue.

Illegal fishing on a fierce industrial scale is robbing West African coastal countries of its fish, often the only protein source for millions of people.

Instead of being used for local, sustainable fishing, the painted pirogue is used to transport desperate people on a perilous sea journey. The film is dedicated to the thousands of Africans who have died crossing the Atlantic to Europe.

If they had their fish, they would not risk crossing the ocean in a wooden boat.

Much of this stolen fish ends up in Europe, says the Environmental Justice Foundation in its recent report, Exposing Pirate Fishing: The Fight Against Illegal Fishing in West Africa and the EU.

Everything is connected. The would-be migrants who try to enter Fortress Europe are suffering from the illegal trade in seafood sold to Europe.

La Pirogue opened the Afrika Eye Film Festival on the 9 November 2012. I was helping the sixth Afrika Eye Film Festival with its social media, and saw a connection for another client, Charles Redfern’s sustainable canned fish brand, Fish4Ever.

He in turn saw a link with the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) and sponsored their stall at La Pirogue’s screening.

Here is Charles Redfern and Kate, a marine scientist, who ran the EJF information stall at the Afrika Eye Film Festival, at the Watershed, Bristol.

Charles has family links to Sierra Leone, also ravaged by illegal fishing.  In 2011, he raised £9k to help the EJF buy Sierra Leone a new monitoring boat. This boat featured in an Al Jazeeera video investigation as it chased two South Korean trawlers fishing illegally.

David Dravie-John from Sierra Leone, and Charles, connected at the opening night. David Dravie-John wanted to interview Charles on his Bristol-based radio on Ujima 98 FM, but as Charles is Reading-based, I agreed to be interviewed instead.

Positive change starts with awareness. I have to communicate the problem because it’s part of finding the solution.

The Zimbabwean film maker, Afrika Eye Film Festival co-founder, and director of Robert Mugabe – What Happened, Simon Bright, says in my interview for Bristol247, “Film has the power to transform political events”.

…”so that the beautiful African pirogues will never again serve to transport human misery,” as a blogger wrote.

Fish4Ever’s ethical sourcing policy refuses to buy from long distance foreign fleets fishing in the coastal waters of developing countries.


And here’s a picture of Charles eating lentil soup I made with Fish4Ever anchovies, + cut-up sweated small cubes of fennel, leek and swede (a veg trio inspired by healthy-food-on-a-budget Square Food Foundation’s chef Barny Haughton).

Delicious sustainable fish, and food security for poor countries.

Have I helped join up the dots?

Keepers: Creamed coconut rice and raw vegetable marinade

Recently two recipes have entered my cooking repertoire. Both vegan (as it happens) they complement each other (as it happens). I want to record them with credits.

Creamed coconut rice

Step up, Claire Milne, the leading light behind the No Tesco in Stokes Croft campaign (and compadre), and the genius who came up with the easiest way to make the best coconut rice ever.

To cooked brown rice, add creamed coconut, cut small so it melts easily, and hey presto: soothing, luxurious coconut rice.

For 8 people: 3 mugs of rice for 6 mugs of water (how to cook brown rice here), 1 creamed coconut block (200g) cut in small pieces. (correction on rice proportions thanks for comment below).

(Experiment with adding cooked lentils, squash fried in small cubes, fresh herbs etc.).

Raw vegetable marinade

Step up,  Julia Guest. A filmmaker who made Letter To The Prime Minister in Bagdad during the bombing, in Fallujah during the occupation.

Julia’s current film, In Her Own Image, is an exploration of female divinity – in response to the war in Iraq as she explains at Indiegogo (where you can crowd-source/support the film). 

Anyway, food – where was I?

Raw vegetable marinade

A marinade is a sauce in which you soak your raw food (usually before cooking but in this case, no cooking required).

Which vegetables can you eat raw? Certainly not potatoes.  More info on raw food here.

I ate sliced mushroom, grated courgette, matchsticks of beetroot.

Choose veg you usually eat raw such as tomatoes, cucumber, radish, but think of others such as carrot or cabbage.

Sliver or slice or grate or anyway cut nice and slim.

Superfood dressing: tamari and cider vinegar and olive oil in equal proportions.

The marinade helps digestion of the vegetables.

Let the sliced veg soak in the dressing for a couple of hours before serving.

Would go well with the creamed coconut rice.