Casting giant croaker nets in Ha Tinh

By Duc Hung    March 12, 2021 | 10:35 am GMT+7
In Ha Tinh Province, dozens of fishermen team up to haul 450-meter-long nets out to sea, often snaring up to a ton of fish per day.
At this time of year, on the coast of Cua Sot, the central provinces Loc Ha District, croakers are in abundance. The shore stretching up to 10 kilometers is dotted with groups of 12 to 15 fishermen standing in an arch, expecting a heavy haul. In peak season, a fisherman could make a decent living from croakers, earning up to VND1 million ($43) per day.

At this time of year, on the coast of Cua Sot, the central province's Loc Ha District, croakers are in abundance. The shore stretching up to 10 kilometers is dotted with groups of 12 to 15 fishermen standing in an arch, expecting a heavy haul.
In peak season, a fisherman could make a decent living from croakers, earning up to VND1 million ($43) per day.

Croakers are a type of ray-finned fish with a big head found near the shore. They are much sought after by restaurants and hotels due to their flavor, nutritional value and absence of intramuscular bones, compared to many freshwater fish in Vietnam.

Croakers are a type of ray-finned fish with a big head found near the shore. They are much sought after by restaurants and hotels due to their flavor, nutritional value and absence of intramuscular bones, compared to many freshwater fish in Vietnam.

Croaker season lasts from the eighth to second lunar month. A small boat typically guides the net out toward its furthest extremity, usually one kilometer from shore.

A small boat typically guides the net out toward its furthest extremity, usually one kilometer from shore.
Croaker season lasts from the eighth to second lunar month.

A net is normally two meters deep, 450 meters long, and widely sold at nearly every market in Ha Tinh Province. The first foray of the day starts at 6:00 a.m. Each group casts their nets thrice a day on average, punctuated by two-hour intervals.

A net is normally two meters deep, 450 meters long, and widely sold at many markets in Ha Tinh.
The first foray of the day starts at 6:00 a.m. Each group casts their nets thrice a day on average, punctuated by two-hour intervals.

A group is often divided into two smaller ones of six or seven people to retrieve the net, which takes about 30 minutes on average.

A group is often divided into two smaller ones of six or seven people to retrieve the net, which takes about 30 minutes on average.

The mouth of the net is slowly closed to prevent fish from escaping.

The mouth of the net is slowly closed to prevent fish from escaping.

Croakers are collected in baskets. Fish sold on-site are priced at VND45,000 ($2) a kilogram. On a good day, we can catch 500 to 700 kilograms, though some days only 100 to 200, Nguyen Vong, 52, from Loc Ha District said.

Croakers are collected in baskets. "Fish sold on-site are priced at VND45,000 ($2) a kilogram. On a good day, we can catch 500 to 700 kilograms, though some days only 100 to 200," Nguyen Vong, 52, from Loc Ha District said.

Croaker meat is soft and easily damaged, necessitating extra care when handled.

Croaker meat is soft and easily damaged, necessitating extra care when handled.

Wholesalers carrying ice boxes on their motorbikes select fish to distribute to restaurants or nearby markets. Bui Thi Hoai, a wholesaler from Thach Ha District, said supply was unstable due to the weather, forcing her to grow her team to source the widest possible selection and quantity. Each kilogram of croakers brings her around VND5,000 to VND10,000 ($0.4) in profit.

Wholesalers carrying ice boxes on their motorbikes select fish to distribute to restaurants or nearby markets.
Bui Thi Hoai, a wholesaler from Thach Ha District, said supply was unstable due to the weather, forcing her to grow her team to source the widest possible selection and quantity. Each kilogram of croakers brings her around VND5,000 to VND10,000 ($0.4) in profit.

Fish are rinsed to clear away sand after classification.

Fish are rinsed to clear away sand after classification.

57-year-old Nguyen Minh Thoai from Loc Ha said: Croakers used to be abundant in the past but not anymore. Now we are struggling because of bottom trawling vessels. If lucky, I could earn VND1 million ($43) a day, or VND400,000 ($17) on average.

57-year-old Nguyen Minh Thoai from Loc Ha said: "Croakers used to be abundant in the past but not anymore. Now we are struggling because of bottom trawling vessels. If lucky, I could earn VND1 million ($43) a day. On normal days, it is VND400,000 ($17)."

By the days end, fishermen carry their empty nets home to prepare for the next early morning catch of the day.

By the day's end, fishermen carry their empty nets home to prepare for the next early morning catch of the day.

Fishermen in Ha Tinh Province haul a fishing net. Video by VnExpress/Duc Hung.

 
 
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