Imraguen people

The Imraguen, Imrāgen, sing. Amrig; are a social group in Mauritania with 800 to 1500 members. They live as coastal fishermen around the Banc - d'Arguin National Park on the Atlantic coast, spread over several villages. The word is Imragen Berber word meaning " fishermen ", another claims to " that collect the life."

Origin and Society

Within the Mauritanian class society Imragen form together with the craftsmen ( Mallemin ), the musicians ( Iggawen, griots ) and hunters ( Nemadi ) the lowest social class. They are despised by the majority society.

Already the first Portuguese navigators ( Valentim Fernandes ) described in the 15th century fishermen on the coast of Mauritania. In the early reports of European travelers the Imraguen were regarded as an ethnic group, whose ancestry was occasionally unclear, derived from the Bafour, a putative ancient tribe in Western Sahara before the arrival of Berber. In fact, the Imraguen can not be distinguished by their origin, but only through their activities by the Moors in the country. The Imraguen formed a melting pot for people of higher social groups who were forced by blows to leave their legacy environment to now lead a despised by the nomadic life. Over time, it became a defined via the Fischer professional community.

Many Imragen may have been previously camel nomads who have lost by robbery or from another economic plight their flocks. Some Imragen were possibly previously in a group of slaves or servants ( Abid ) of families of Muslim upper class. Rarely lives more than an extended family in one place.

Economic system

Their livelihoods were mullet ( Mugil cephalus ) caught with traditional methods and dried fish ( Hassaniya tischtar ) were sun-dried. The fishing mullet was seasonal and limited to the period of its north-south migration between July and December. The fishermen throw their nets in the water standing in the sea. To encircle a school of fish, a collaborative working is required. In the 1950s, they began using this technique approximately 100 tonnes of fish annually. Other activities were semi-nomadic livestock or work in the salt mining areas to the east in the Mauritanian Sahara.

After the country's independence in 1960, the centuries- old way of life had to adapt to the rapidly changing economic and political conditions. With the overfishing of the sea coast, in the late 1970s began through the use of a national fishing fleet, you catch fell sharply in mullets. Mullet roe was in demand in Europe. The Imragen fished now with motor boats to sharks and sea turtles. From 1987 intensified the hunt for sharks, many were cut off only the fins for the Asian market. For the Imragen the changed fishing practices meant large investments and the sale of Rohfische the loss of the profit that they have been able to achieve through the processing. The previously employed with the processing women were no longer involved, even the production for self-sufficiency went almost to zero.

With the establishment of the national park in 1989, the Imraguen suddenly lost their fishing rights and thus their livelihood. After protests, the conflict between environmental and economic interests was thus defused that Imragen exclusive fishing rights were given to fish with sailboats and at the same time since then integrated as park rangers and tourist guides of the park administration. Around 2000, lived within the park 900 Imragen in nine villages.