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THE KITE MEN

BY PHUC LOC
(No.6, Vol.6,Aug-Sep 2016 Vietnam Heritage Magazine)


Catching fish by pushing the nets on Nha Mat Beach, Bac Lieu Province.
Photo: Nguyen Trong Nam

The fishermen of the South West employ an unusual technique

On the South-West coast people have many fishing techniques. But framed net pushing is perhaps the oldest and most unique one in the Bac Lieu region.
The equipment is simple. Two long bamboo poles are tied together into a V-shaped frame. A net is stretched on and sewn to the frame like a kite. When the net is pushed forward, sea creatures get caught in the net and cannot escape.
The job is hard, though it looks easy and beautiful, like a person lifting and lowering a kite full of wind. This ‘kite’ is actually very heavy, because it’s big, and instead of air, it’s full of water, and maybe even some fish. It’s not a job for weaklings.
First, the net pusher lifts the net to see if there is any catch in it and empties the net. Then, keeping the whole kite above the sea bottom, the fisherman pushes it in the constant slanting position until something is caught.
To make it easier, fishermen work when the water moves near the shore; for example, at the time of tides, early in the morning or evening. Each time, they bring only the kite net, a hand basket to hold the catch, and a jar of water, enough for a few hours.
On the beaches of Xiem Can, Nha Mat and protected areas of Bac Lieu, every morning hundreds of fishermen, mostly strong and young ones, come to spread their kites, holding and pushing them along the shore until high tide. Each working session lasts two to three hours only. On average, each man harvests three to five kilograms of small fish, shellfish and other seafood.
After hours soaking themselves in sea water, they sell their catch on the spot to tourists or other customers. It’s a very hard way of life, but perhaps it’s just their destiny. So every time, they come down to the water with a big smile on their lips and a total faith in the heaven and the sea.


The article in Vietnamese was printed in Dan Viet.

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