Old men and the sea

Early morning

Plank boat

I have a fondness for fisherpeople. Being on the southeastern coast of India, Pondicherry is full of them.

They’re poor, diligent and seafaring. They’re lives are precariously tethered to the global marine ecosystem, something we in the West (and particularly in the Midwest, away from coasts) tend to ignore. Yet it’s our pollution that causes stuff like this, for example.

Many of the fishermen I’ve met while traveling are simple, laid back people. Except for the cantankerous old men, and they’re fun in their own way.

While exploration diving off Pondicherry, we traded bags of potato chips — literally tossed them from one boat to another — for information about fishing grounds, which often make good dive sites. Their sense is uncanny, as if genetic, as if instinctual, some feeling in their bones. A local fishermen, without any landmarks in sight, literally three-hundred sixty degrees of ocean, can identify a prime spot for a catch.

The minute the fishermen said to kill the engine, our sounder spiked for debris on the ocean floor. We went down 24 meters and only had to swim a couple minutes before we found trees, sunk months ago by other fishermen as a kind of artificial reef.

If/when I transition from journalism to international development, I want to work in coastal communities; I’m fascinated at how the sea harvest often dominates the economy, in a non-corporate way, yet these fishermen remain fixed in poverty.

Tidal fishing

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3 Responses to “Old men and the sea”

  1. mom Says:
    March 30th, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    anyone who follows your blog sure learns lots of cool stuff.

  2. ADAM JADHAV » Blog Archive » Sleepy fishing town Says:
    October 6th, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    [...] also spent a good bit of time taking photos of fishermen — who I am fond of — and talking with them and others about the sustainability of fishing, diving, tourism and other [...]

  3. ADAM JADHAV » Blog Archive » Highly evolved predator killed by highly ignorant predator Says:
    October 11th, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    [...] not that I’m against fishermen — on the contrary, I support them when they’re sustainablee and understand that too many poor people rely on the sea for absolutes and platitudes against [...]

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