Travel Travel

02/09/2017 - 15:20

Squid fishing at night 

Night squid fishing is a long-existed job and a main source of livelihood for many fishermen in coastal areas of Hai Duong Commune (Huong Tra Town). Every night fishing at sea, they earn from VND 500,000 to 1.5 million per boat.

As the sun starts to sink below the horizon, fishermen in Thai Duong Ha Trung village prepare fishing gears for squid “hunting” in boats. Every night, dozens of boats, big or small, float at sea. The squid season is usually from January to August lunar month.

Squid fishing requires fishermen’s full attention and constant observation

We asked to accompany Mr. Phan Duc Hien on his boat - a fisherman (41 years old) with 25 years’ experience at sea and going squid fishing as a job for a living.

From Tam Giang Lagoon, the boat crossed Thuan An seaport, and headed oceanward on its journey of 3 nautical miles. "Many times when we set off the sky is clear, but when we reach our destination there are heavy storms, so we have to come back empty handed. My father was also a fisherman who died at sea because of a sudden storm, "said Hien meditatively.

At 6 pm, the boat arrives at an area known as “squid home”. As soon as the boat was anchored, Hien placed a stick down to balance the boat. When it was getting pitch dark, he began to connect an electrode to a battery. With two LED lights firmly fixed onto its sides, the boat was brightly lit. On the sea surface, hundreds of sparks of light were flashing in darkness.

The fishing gears are quite simple, including scoop nets and fishing rods. According to Hien, there are two ways to catch squids, either using a tool called “the” or another one called “ruong”. In the former way, a fishing line is attached to a piece of iron, and along the fishing line are “the” (colorful braids) which are set about 30 cm apart from each other to attract squids. In the latter way, a fishing line is connected to eight sharp hooks. The rod is a small, and tough bamboo stick, attached to a piece of rubber with a round hole on it to thread the fishing line through and roll it into a winch.

Hien threw the piece of iron into the sea with one hand, and drop the fishing line with the other hand through the winch to let the iron sink onto the seabed. Hien gave several gentle tugs on the rod and then quickly rolled the line up. Squids were attracted by “the”, so they swam near water surface, and fishermen quickly sweep them upwith a large scoop net and put them in a basket. Hien said: "The depth of the sea in squid fishing area is about 13 times of your arm length, so this is also the length of a fishing line with attached colorful braids. When the last “the” of the fishing line is dropped, it means the iron is at the sea bottom. We keep on fishing that way until it is time to return to shore."

It was more than 2 am, Hien hurriedly placed the basket of squids in the boat. It seemed last night catch was not as he had expected. “With these squids, I earn less than VND 200,000. It is not a lucky night,” he said pensively. Staying for a little longer, though there was no more squid, he decided to sail back sooner than usual.

….In the wee hours of the morning, a “squid market” was filled with the hustle and bustle of buyers and sellers as many boats had been docked. “For each kilogram of squids, we earn about VND 200,000. The amount is just enough to cover food expenses, after we deduct all costs of a trip“ said Ms. Nguyen Thi An, a squid seller.

For the fishermen here, as long as there is a rich source of seafood, their livelihoods are maintained. So, when the squid season comes, boats are like “stars” shining on the sea at night.

A squid fishing journey of fishermen from Hai Duong Commune:

Boats headed to the sea on the afternoon of the day before ... 

Anchoring the boat at a squid fishing area.

Having a meal during the trip

The fishing gears are quite simple

When it's dark, they start to catch squids ...

Attracted squids are caught by a scoop net prepared in advance ...

Then transferred to the boat

A “squid market" is crowded from the wee hours, and fishermen’s journey of squid hunting ends here.

By Vo Thuy Trang