La pirogue

The young fisherman pulls up his net and dumps its contents into his pirogue.

There are no carp or capitaines; just plastic bags, discarded water sachets, and leaves.

This has been the story all afternoon for Yusuf and his business partner Modibo.

They’re fishing in the vast Niger river that lacerates the Malian capital of Bamako.

Yusuf says they’re lucky to make 2-3,000 CFA ($4-6) a day – but days like today are becoming more common for these pêcheurs.

He blames the increasing pollution for the lack of fish – either killing them or forcing them to find new feeding grounds.

Bamako is a typical pulsating African city, excreting piles of synthetic garbage into its streets, parks and river every day.

And now that pollution is starting to affect the livelihoods of young fishermen like Yusuf and Modibo.

The two partners bought their flat-bottomed boat just last year, but are now struggling to repay the 30,000 CFA ($60) loaned to them to purchase it.

Yusuf stands up at the bow of the pirogue one last time as the sun reaches its nadir.

He winds up like an Olympian discus thrower and hurls out the small weighted net into the Niger. He waits a minute, before starting to haul it up.

It seems heavy; Yusuf eagerly drags it into the boat.

More plastic bags; more man-made detritus.

Pas des poissons, encore,” says Yusuf, with a resolute smile.