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Personal experiences during the internship

The 6-month internship with Mundus maris asbl was very useful to me. They allowed me not only to apply or practice my theoretical knowledge taught at university, but also to discover the professional world. The entire internship took place around three essential points: bibliographical elements, field studies, analysis of results.

Before this internship, I didn't have many ideas about what micro-fishmongers do. I considered them to be simple actors operating informally in the marketing of fish in Senegal. This internship therefore reinforced not only the little knowledge I had on the subject but also allowed me to have much more factual information on the working conditions of these micro-fishmongers. The days spent in the field with these women gave me a better understanding of their importance in the fish value chain in Senegal. Because it is they, once the landings have been made, that allow households to access fish through micro-fish trading. But also, the interactions with them made me understand that these women work in difficult conditions due to the lack of funding, basic equipment and infrastructure, hygiene in the workplace, etc. On the other hand, everything the field work was carried out in a good atmosphere with the greatest happiness because of the good humor with which the women interviewed from the two sites welcomed me and answered questions.

Women micro-fish seller seeking access to part of the landing in Hann

I also learned during this internship that in a Senegalese context where we do not always have an exact answer when we ask a question, that we had to be attentive during all the surveys. Sometimes a person can respond with a Wolof proverb that is difficult to translate into French, but the main thing is to correctly interpret the message that the person wants to convey and to retain what interests us. Also, in the field, for the smooth running of the surveys, whether by questionnaire or by interview, it is always necessary to support certain people who can be considered as major figures in artisanal fishing at site level. Without this support, it becomes much more difficult to carry out the surveys. These are things I prepared for before the start of the internship and my expectations were confirmed. In both courts, the experience was fantastic. I passed the questionnaires to the respondents in their own "Mbaars" where they sell their fish and they welcomed me with open hearts. Often the discussions even went beyond the scope of the study, but I listened to them anyway because I had plenty of time for that, then I brought them back to the questionnaires. These “Mbaars” are also places of conviviality. They gathered in these places to eat or drink tea. And they are not the only ones because often, others like porters or fishermen also come there. There are therefore very solid social relations between them and the other players in the marketing of fish on the site.

Finally, I can say that the internship was a fantastic experience for me. Many of my early expectations were confirmed at the end of this internship. In addition to allowing me to take a step into the world of research, it also reinforced my desire to become an actor in fisheries.

Text and phtoto by Mouhamadou Bamba N'diaye.