Phu Quoc Island gets into its anchovy act

By Ngoc Thanh    January 18, 2021 | 10:27 am GMT+7
Fishermen and seasonal workers are working hard making a seafood product that Phu Quoc is particularly famous for: dried anchovy.
Apart from its beautiful beaches and forests, Phu Quoc in southern Vietnams Kien Giang Province has long been famous for its signature fish sauce, with the anchovy caught off the island being the main raw material. Sun-dried anchovies are another popular seafood product from Phu Quoc, Vietnams largest island. After offshore fishing vessels return to the coast, small boats belonging to anchovy fish merchants transport anchovy-laden baskets to the workplace.There are numerous shops that make dried anchovy on Phu Quoc, especially in the communes of Duong Dong, Ganh Giau and An Thoi.

Apart from its beautiful beaches and forests, Phu Quoc in southern Vietnam's Kien Giang Province has long been famous for its signature fish sauce, with the anchovy caught off the island being the main raw material. Sun-dried anchovies are another popular seafood product from Phu Quoc, Vietnam's largest island.
After offshore fishing vessels return to the coast, small boats belonging to anchovy fish merchants transport anchovy-laden baskets to the workplace.
There are numerous shops that make dried anchovy on Phu Quoc, especially in Duong Dong Ward and the communes of Ganh Giau and An Thoi.

Nguyen Ngoc Hien (far right), the 46-year-old owner of a fish shop in the Dat Do area in An Thoi Commune, said that calm waters this time of the year has ensured a bountiful catch. Some days we even take in 20 tons of fresh fish, which would require 50 to 60 people to work nonstop, including night shifts, to transport and process. Several shop owners on the island help fishermen purchase their boats to get priority in receiving the anchovy catch. Other species of fish caught are distributed to wholesalers in the market.

Nguyen Ngoc Hien (far right), the 46-year-old owner of a fish shop in the Dat Do area in An Thoi Commune, said that calm waters this time of the year has ensured a bountiful catch. "Some days we even take in 20 tons of fresh fish, which would require 50 to 60 people to work nonstop, including night shifts, to transport and process."
Several shop owners on the island help fishermen purchase their boats to get priority in receiving the anchovy catch. Other species of fish caught are distributed to wholesalers in the market.

Since it takes anywhere between a week and a month for an offshore fishing trip, anchovies are put on ice to be stored in the hull. With fishermen use sonar devices to locate the fish, they almost never return empty-handed.

Since it takes anywhere between a week and a month for an offshore fishing trip, anchovies are put on ice to be stored in the hull. As fishermen use sonar devices to locate the fish, they almost never return empty-handed.

Workers spread anchovies on nets before boiling them. The average wage for a seafood worker this season is VND300,000 ($13) per day and double if they work night shifts.

Workers spread anchovies on nets before boiling them.
The average wage for a seafood worker this season is VND300,000 ($13) per day and double if they work night shifts.

The fish cauldron incorporates a system of pulleys to improve productivity. Anchovies are usually boiled with salt at midnight or early morning. Each boiling batch consists of 10 net trays and gets brought out to the sun on that same morning.

The fish cauldron incorporates a system of pulleys to improve productivity.
Anchovies are usually boiled with salt at midnight or early morning. Each boiling batch consists of 10 net trays and gets brought out to the sun on that same morning.

The windy and sunny weather on Phu Quoc Island during the dry season is ideal for sun-drying the fish, and these trays are put out early in the morning.While anchovies are caught throughout the year, the dry season in Phu Quoc is from October to March, when they can be sun-dried. During the rainy season, drying chambers are used.

The windy and sunny weather on Phu Quoc Island during the dry season is ideal for sun-drying the fish, and these trays are put out early in the morning.
While anchovies are caught throughout the year, the dry season in Phu Quoc is from October to March, when they can be sun-dried. During the rainy season, drying chambers are used.

Two types of dried anchovies are made on the island – raw and boiled. Both can be served as ready-to-eat snacks.

Two types of dried anchovies are made on the island – raw and boiled. Both can be served as ready-to-eat snacks.

After six hours of sunlight exposure, the anchovies are considered final products. According to shop owners, 10 kilograms of raw anchovies get reduced to four kilograms after drying.

After six hours of sunlight exposure, the anchovies are considered final products. According to shop owners, 10 kilograms of raw anchovies get reduced to four kilograms after drying.

I come all the way from An Giang Province to earn some cash for the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday. The tasks do not require specific skills. You just have to be in good health. My husband and I receive VND500,000 ($22) a day if we work hard, said Nan Thu, a 50-year-old worker, smiling.

"I come all the way from An Giang Province to earn some cash for the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday. The tasks do not require specific skills. You just have to be in good health. My husband and I receive VND500,000 ($22) a day if we work hard," said Nan Thu, a 50-year-old worker, smiling.

The nets are collected after the fish is transferred to plastic crates.

The nets are collected after the fish is transferred to plastic crates.

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The crates of dried anchovy fish are stacked on trucks for distribution. Most of them go to China. The price for one kilogram of dried fish is around VND45,000 ($2).

Making a seafood delicacy – sun-dried anchovies – on Phu Quoc Island. Video by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.

 
 
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