Jan 4, 2009

Chinese Fishing Nets at Fort Kochi, Kerala

Backpacking in Kerala over the last ten days was a curious mix of learning and change of perspective in multiple ways.

One early morning at Fort Kochi I met James at the Chinese Fishing Nets. These cantilevered Chinese fishing nets were introduced to Kerala between 1350-1450 by Chinese spice traders. James is the only one of his crew that speaks in broken English and is the designated one to speak to tourists. James proudly invites me over to climb the platform of the net and explore the net set up at the confluence of the Arabian Sea (Salt water) and the Vembanad Lake (Sweet water, i am told).

He informs me that it takes about INR 3-4 Lakhs to install one of these nets which are largely made of teak. The net spanning up to 20m needs to be replaced every 6 months or so. I am introduced around to people on the crew and just as they begin their morning prayers before the first haul i notice that there is quite a representation of a bunch of different religions. The net is submerged for about 2-3 mins and then pulled up using counter weights. This is repeated about 200-250 times a day, yielding about 20-30 kilos of fish. The fish is usually sold to tourists in the nearby market, 30% of the proceeds going to the owner leaving 70% to be split between the 5-6 net operators.

Over time the fishing has dwindled and people like James are reduced to make polite conversation with tourists like me, offering me information and taking my picture at the nets in exchange for money to supplement their income.


Goli said...

Very Interesting. :)

Blog more about your backpacking trip. I want to go for back packing once when things settle down little bit. :)

Balu said...

masth hai.. books and all that...