Filipino Fisherman

Photos by Bob Gardner

During a visit to the Philippines, my cousin's husband offered to let me hitch a ride on one of his fishing boats. It was about to leave Manila for a six-month excursion to the Ragay Gulf and Palawan. It sounded like an interesting adventure and I figured I could jump ship at some place I hadn't visited before.

The boat was a commercial purse-seiner of about 20-m and held a crew of 20 men. They gave me a bunk in the pilothouse which had a foam pad but was always lit and occupied. It didn't matter much since we worked all night anyway and catnapped during the day. From Manila we chugged south reaching the area between Batangas and Mindoro by nightfall. That first night, the sonar equipment was tested and one haul of the net was made. When the boat is in the fishing mode it cruises around and crewmen keep a close eye on the sonar screen. Schools of fish show up a blotches on the screen. When a school is spotted, a small skiff tows a huge net out the back of the boat and completely encircling the school. The net is then winched back to the boat and the catch is sorted and stored. Besides the target fish like mackerel, nearly every other type of sea creature is hauled in. (Story continued on next sheet)

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