Jennalee Goeda

Swakopmund is geographically situated in between the dunes and desert close to the mouth of the Swakop River. Swakopmund was an important harbour during the colonial period even though the conditions were not favourable with the coastal waters being too shallow and its coast having a strong surf (InfoNamibia, 2024). During the colonial period, Swakopmund was referred to as “Germany’s most southern coastal resort“ (InfoNamibia, 2024). The water temperatures hardly reach over 20 °C due to the cold Benguela current of the Atlantic. For this reason, Swakopmund, today,  serves as an important tourist attraction due to its mild climatic conditions during the high seasons of December and January (InfoNamibia, 2024). The tourists that come to visit the town are mainly in-land tourists. Many South-African and Namibian pensioners have taken up permanent residency in Swakopmund due to its costal holiday appeal (InfoNamibia, 2024).

While the town has many tourist attractions such as its German architecture, a wonderful beach promenade, an aquarium, the jetty and much more. The towns nearby surroundings are of significant importance to the subsistence and livelihoods of its residents. Especially the coastal road which is marked by rolling by dunes on the one side and by the Atlantic Ocean on the other, becoming a fishing paradise. A unique feature in Swakopmund is the presence of subsistence bicycle fishermen. While conducting fieldwork along the coast of Swakopmund we had the opportunity to speak to one of these bicycle fishermen who spoke about his relationship to the sea and about ocean sustainability. He shared the following:

“I grew up along the coast, living in Swartkopmund with my grandmom. My grandfather was a fisherman, and he would take us out to sea where we would catch loads of fish using hand lines, this was in about the early 70s. With those basic lines he would catch much more fish in less time than you would today’s times, even with all this advanced equipment available. My grandfather knew about fish, freshwater fish specifically. He learnt to fish using the freshwater techniques, they were much closer at the time compared to now. That’s where my passion for the small fishing communities of the coast comes from, because I grew up catching and eating fish and enjoying at the coast.”

The fisherman continued the conversation towards ocean sustainability as he had noted that due to “climate change and other factors such as a lack of new technologies, being in the small-scale fishing industry has become very challenging”. Along with this, the new rules and regulations that have been put in place to protect resources has been a difficult adjustment for fishermen. We argue that further research should be done in this region to engage with these fishermen in considering how communities challenge discourses of the oceans and their response to external stakeholders’ 'management' of coastlines.



InfoNamibia.(2024). Swakopmund. [Online], Available from: [Accessed: 25 March 2024].

Posted on 20 March 2024 09:08:31

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