With Accra just by the sea, fishing has an important role in the communities in Ga Mashie. The trading of fish and salt were the basis of the Gas’ precolonial economy and continues to contribute to both the informal and formal economies of the communities. Fishing also has a cultural and social significance; to be a fisherman is a respectable employment and a good way of earning money. Many fishermen are introduced to the trade by their fathers or another male relative. The process of fishing requires different elements and people to make it work. There are shops on the beach that caters to the practical needs of the canoe and other fishing accessories. On a boat there is normally 6 to 12 fishermen who tends to be men. There is a system of ascribed roles and also a hierarchy based on knowledge and merit rather than nepotism and gerontocracy. Despite the gendered nature of fishing, women play an important role during different parts of the fishing process (often when the fishermen brings the fish to shore). There is often a canoe mother who is the mediator between the fishermen and the public who wants to buy the fish. The canoe mother (who is related to the canoe owner or the canoe owner) decides the prices and also provides money for any repair that needs to be done on the canoe or other equipments. Women are often those who buy, cleanse and prepare the fish (either by frying and smoking) for consumption. Though there are different types of fishing which can result in a canoe or boat being offshore for days, weeks and even months, many practice day fishing. A day fishing team normally starts at dawn and return to shore around 6-8 am to transfer their catch to the canoe mother. If there are no problems with the canoe or fishing nets they normally return home. On the days where equipements need to be fixed, the team attend to that before leaving for the day. Fishing can be done on any day except tuesdays. Tuesdays in popular narrative (associated to Ga traditional belief) is a resting day for the sea gods, for individual fishermen and fixing of fishing equipments.
Disclaimer for audio recording The person doing the talking is not the chief fisherman but his friend sitting to his left. The chief fisherman is infact quiet during the entire interview