trawl fishery in India
Fishermen’s daily net-work is teamwork. In the early morning or late afternoon, the trawling starts with setting up the team by sitting together having a chai tea or a collective pray in hope of a good catch. Hierarchy plays an important role during this procedure as the boat owner has to distribute the catch afterwards. Although many fishermen can not swim, they are proud sailors and experienced navigators even when they sail out to the dark without any additional instruments or torches. Stars and lighthouses become their compass than. Back in the harbour, the scene is getting rush and sometimes aggressiv. The hired workers want to have their portion of the catch, the dockers try to carry as much fish as they can and the intermediary vendors bargain for the best fish available with downgrading the prices. Another fishing technique, for those who don’t own a boat or who’s boat is too small for sailing far, is the onshore trawling. Mostly late afternoons, the locals get together to outlay their shared nets which easily can reach a length of one hundred meters.
Several times the net is pulled back to the beach by a crowd of man. Mostly small and very few fish is catched by this practice and shared between huge groups of people. Deviding the catch goes along with forceful action as everybody wants to feed his familiy.
The stationary fishermen at Cochin have their very own technique, that Chinese people brought to India. Huge wooden constructions hold the nets which are dropped to the sea right before the tide starts and pulled up again when the high tide is over. During that time the fishermen sit and wait together, while having a chat. Hours later, pulling the hopefully rich-filled net out of the water means a lot of exhausting work, one alone can’t handle. The Backwaters provide an alternative income to fishermen. For coconut fiber production, the coconut needs to dwell in the water of the numerous lakes. After a couple of weeks the basic raw material is ready to be pulled out of the water for further production of ropes.
After the Tsunami 2004 many glass-fiber ships were destroyed. An old manufacturing craft was recovered after the impact; the production of wood-boats, made all by hand, direct on the beach. This enabled the fishermen to afford new ships and also strengthened the local micro-economy. The family income, financial spending and investment mainly is managed by the fishermen’s wifes. Mostly they take the leading part during negotiations of any kind. No doubt, the future of fishery at the Indian coastline is uncertain. International trawlers catch most of the fish leaving behind only small species for locals. The next generation still learn the craft to fish from their parents. Even without much alternatives, the youth view is still optimistic, maybe well-founded through the strong religious beliefs and faiths.
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During this project a photografic exhibition was developed, which is lendable from our project partner: Bildung trifft Entwicklung (BtE). If you are interested just contact us.