ClockSaturday, 20/04/2024 07:53

Shrimp, fish back

TTH.VN - It has been several decades since fishermen in Ngu Dien Sea (Phong Dien, Thua Thien Hue) have witnessed shoals of scads, herring, shrimp... swimming to the shore. The inshore sea is reviving!

Fish Worshipping Festival and kicking off Southern fishing season ceremonyHarvesting sea products before rainy season

 Fish removed from nets after a bumper fishing trip

The sweltering early-summer sun is also when the whitecaps are no longer angry as if urging fishermen to freely put their boats out to sea to throw nets and cast lines. After a long absence in the sea, now squids and shrimps ...  suddenly appear close to the shore. "The early-summer sea is very strange," smiled young fisherman Vo Bac in Hai The Hamlet, Phong Hai Commune (Phong Dien).

Nowadays, in Ngu Dien Sea, it is especially rare to see young fishermen like Vo Bac, who in his early 20s decides to follow in his forefathers’ footsteps. On a trip to the sea, every time he spreads nets or casts lines, Bac is pregnant with many feelings and emotions.

“This job is also really tough, but it's not too bad. Many people grow up and have stable careers, including teachers, engineers, doctors... all thanks to shrimp and fish. However, for a long time the sea was empty of boats," Bac shared.

In Bac's memories of the time when his native land's sea was full of shrimp and fish, he only heard about it from his elders, fathers, and grandfathers. That was the time about 20 years back when shrimp and fish swam to the shore, fishermen freely threw their nets and cast lines, and their boats were brimful of fish.

Fishermen just needed to stand on the shore and use seine nets to catch tons of scads, hake, and anchovy. On the coastal fishing trips, every boat was brimful with tiny shrimp and sea shrimp. Then the huge catches of herring, scads, and anchovy also filled the boat's compartments.

In the memories of elderly fishermen, back then people invested in exploitation in association with the protection and preservation of seafood resources very methodically. Standing on the shore and looking a few kilometers away, you will see bamboo trees protruding from the sea surface. There, the bottom of the bamboo stalks is attached to sandbags, combined with dry straw, and banana leaves as a way to lure scads, tuna, mackerel, etc. to nest and reproduce.

On a trip to the sea, fishermen did not have to waste much time and fuel going across the vast sea in search of fish flow, but just needed to find shelters to freely throw nets and cast lines. When shrimp and fish showed signs of decreasing, the boats rested to create conditions for seafood species to reside and continue to reproduce.

 Vo Bac’s batch of squid

Then there came the time when the scads, tunas, mackerel... no longer appeared in the coastal waters. The bamboo boats had to lie on the shore for a long time, the fishermen got sad and taciturn. Since then, Ngu Dien fishermen have encountered countless difficulties with their fishing in the face of depleting seafood resources in near-shore waters.

In Ngu Dien area, when the fishery was flourishing, there were thousands of bamboo boats, and in Phong Hai alone, there were hundreds. However, at one time in these villages, only a few dozen boats were left. Many fishermen sold their boats, gave up their fishing jobs, and switched to raising white-leg shrimp on the sand and doing other jobs. Among them, many people also always look towards the sea and miss their job dreadfully such as Mr. Vo Tuong, Vo Toan, Nguyen Vien, Vo Xong in Hai The, Mr. Tran Hoa, Long Tuyen... in Hai Nhuan (Phong Hai)...

Among the many reasons why near-shore waters are increasingly empty of fish and shrimp, there is one main reason, as Vo Bac firmly said, "For a long time, fishermen quit their job of building nests, causing seafood species to lose their habitats, forcing them to migrate to other seas, or to seek out distant seas."

What Bac said is entirely well-founded. In recent years, since fishermen reverted to nesting, seafood resources have begun to revive. Although the seafood inshore is not as abundant as before, the fishermen sticking to the sea to make a living have a stable life.

And an “incredible” thing happened when the waves calmed down in early summer this year, shoals of scads, tiny shrimp, cuttlefish... swam into the coastal waters. These days, the fishermen's boats are filled with tiny shrimp and scads. The beach is crowded with buyers and sellers, recreating the scene of the coastal countryside once abundant in fish and shrimp.

Even though he did many jobs, Vo Bac decided to choose a fishing job as his main livelihood. This young fisherman's bamboo boat with a capacity of less than 20CV moves all over the coastal waters almost every day. On that small boat, there are many jobs: push nets used to catch tiny shrimp; nets 1 and 2 to fish sardine, anchovy, and scad; trammel net to catch cuttlefish, and catching fish and squid in the inshore sea.

Recently, Bac has also organized a relaxing sea fishing service for tourists during the days when the sea is rough and seafood is scarce. Bac said, "Born and raised in the coastal area, with no good education, I have to follow in your father's footsteps to earn a living. I just hope that the seafood inshore will always be abundant and that every sea trip will bring a huge fortune."

Each trip can exploit hundredweights or tons of fish, but it is impossible to sell them all, the rest have to be made into salted fish or dried products “While the sea is reviving, the jobs of processing salted fish, fish sauce, fish products, and dried shrimp in Phong Hai and some coastal localities of Ngu Dien are gradually dying.  A lot of seafood gather, but the price of fresh fish at the shore is too cheap (because few people buy them to make salted fish), so the profit is low," Bac said.

Even mackerel, tuna, herring… once “out of sight” now start to reappear in Ngu Dien inshore sea. For fishermen in the coastal area, this is the "breast milk" for countless people. What Vo Bac and the fishermen are worried about: "The revival of seafood is evident, but how long will it last?" This also relies on the "behavior" of fishermen towards the marine environment, towards seafood resources that have recently been revived.

It is a prerequisite, and there is no other way but to maintain and promote the traditional way of nesting and reproducing to ensure a stable habitat for species. The exploitation process must go hand in hand with the protection and conservation of marine resources in coastal waters. Fishermen need to be cognizant not only of collecting waste and cleaning up the sea and beaches but also of not littering the sea to create a clean environment for seafood species to reside and reproduce.

In the experience of elderly fishermen, when near-shore seafood species start to show signs of depletion, fishing must be temporarily stopped for a certain period. Fishing jobs must ensure the mesh size according to the regulations.  Fishing jobs must also accord with the season of fish species. Ngu Dien coastal villages have many advantages of processing salted fish and fish sauce. It is recommended that the functional agencies and local authorities need to maintain and organize seafood-processing villages more systematically to foster the development of fishery.

Story and photos: Hoang Trieu
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