The Pakistani port city of Gwadar is situated on a hammerhead peninsula; its distinctive shape making it easy to spot on a map. This hypervisibility is echoed in its status amongst those who invest in Special Economic Zones, or those who are interested in the flow of oil. For them, Gwadar is strategic. The construction of a deep sea port and accompanying investment of nearly $50 billion by China is testament to this status.
But before all this, Gwadar was a sleepy fishing village …
Fishermen make their livelihoods at sea. But when the fish runs out or stocks dwindle – as they did in Gwadar when the port was built on prime shrimp breeding grounds – fishermen look to the sea once again for other ways to support themselves. In Gwadar this meant shipping cheap petrol from oil tankers resting off the Iranian coast, an easy way to evade US sanctions. But the fishermen also carry a different cargo – people are ferried across the maritime border with ease and dropped off in the remote coastal areas of Iran to continue onwards to Europe
(photograph, February 2015)