Viet Nam News
KIÊN GIANG — Nguyễn Tấn Viên, 64, prepares for his daily cuttlefish fishing expedition at 5pm.
Living in An Thới Village on Phú Quốc Island of southern Kiên Giang Province, Viên often fishes around small islands such as Thơm and Móng Tay.
Every night, Viên goes fishing alone on his small boat, which at 5m long and 2m wide, is like a frail leave in the vast ocean.
Viên said he has done the job for more than 30 years. When he was young, he often fished far from shore. Now, in his old age, he can only fish close to the shore.
On the average, Viên earns VNĐ500,000-1 million (US$20-40) a night if the sea is peaceful.
Thành Châu, a local resident, said that Viên was one of the most skilled fishermen in the area.
“Catching cuttlefish requires a lot of skill, and few people have as much skill as Viên,” Châu told Thanh Niên (Young People) newspaper.
Many people saw Viên caught cuttlefish so easily, so they prepared equipment to copy him, but were eventually unsuccessful. Then they must go far to sea to catch the fish, he said.
Phú Quốc is now a tourism magnet, and many locals have better lives thanks to the industry. But at old fishing villages like An Thới, many fishermen still live in small houses and earn a living with dangerous careers like fishing offshore.
Bảy, 55, another fisherman, started his career in An Thới Village in 1993.
At first, he did not earn much from the job, so he decided to go to the Central Highlands to plant pepper trees. But his life was even harder, and he returned to the sea.
“The fish supply near the shore became exhausted so I have to fish dozens of miles from the shore for cuttlefish,” said Bảy.
To find areas with many cuttlefish, Bảy must travel for one day and night. And then he stays at sea for nearly two weeks, or even a month before returning home.
When Bảy faces strong waves and wind, he travels to the nearest island for shelter.
“Going to the sea alone means that you always face danger,” said Bảy.
“Many times I find that the job was too demanding, but if I quit, I could not find other work,” he said.
On Phú Quốc Island, many other seamen also go to the sea alone like Bảy and Viên.
Nguyễn Thành Châu, a local seaman, said that he used to fish 200 nautical miles from the shore, and it took him three days and nights to travel there.
Châu often floats on the sea for more than a month.
All of the seamen on the island said that it was too dangerous to float alone on the sea. But they must do it, because do not know how else to earn a living. — VNS