March 6, 2009

Fishermen profiles and stories

1. Mr. To Van Tung
Mr. Tung was born in 1945 in Nam Can district, Ca Mau province. When he was 7 he already noticed about the existing of river Day. On the river that his Day locates now, there were 3 lines of Day, which now only 2 left. He was growing up and since 1960 he started to join inshore Day with other people.At that time, he also joined North Vietnamese army which fighting with US and South Vietnamese army. Mr. Tung got married in 1966 and had 8 children. The war ended in 1975, he got a high position in the army, but then he had to leave the army because his farther is Chinese, at that time there was a problem to Chinese Vietnamese as Vietnam started to have a new war with China.
Before 1967, mangrove forest in this area was very dense and diverse. But from 1968 after the North had a strong attack the South, US army sprayed Agent Orange to the forest in order to unhide the North soldiers, and that mostly cleared the entire Ca Mau mangrove. Rhizophora had a higher dead rate by dioxin compare to Avicenia. The forest then recovered by nature and replanting.
Leaved the army, from 1975 to 1979 he backed to his home land at Nam Can district to do rice cultivation, during that time rice production brought good crops and he was happy, but then he moved to do fishing which he though that may bring more benefit.
From 1979 to 1981 he started his first river Day at the river mouth; in fact he bought it from one fisherman in the village. That place now already erased by the sea. The government then stopped that Day because it was too dangerous. So he topped doing Day for 3 years.
He started river Day fisheries again in 1984 with another one backward inland and staying there to date (there were some small moving, because of land erosion). In 1986 he got a very big fish and shrimp crop, but that is the only one special year, other year the same with the production is gradually going down. Now he owns one gate in the three gates line of Day. Bad luck for him, thefts came on November 2008 and cut the net, he lost 10 million VND to buy a new one.
2. Mr. Ly Van Loc
Mr. Loc married and working with the river Day from 1995 with his farther in-law then he inherited the river Day from his father in-law from 2000. His Day has one gate only, and moved once when the government thought it holds up traffic. His stays for the current position for almost 10 years. He does not know much about the history of river Day in the area, except since his involvement from 1995. Anyway from that time, he thought catch of fish and shrimp going down. People now try to catch everything, include small larvae.
3. Mr. Hong Van Hoang
Mr. Hoang was born in 1952 and started inshore Day when he was 19. At that time he run a small engine boat and placed his inshore Day which very close to the shoreline (about 1 km or less), the reason was not he couldn’t go farer but because afraid of American warship which will attack if they found fishermen, whom almost were Viet Cong at the time. Up to date his family has 4 generation working with Day. According to him, his grandfather was born in 1890 and already working with Day. At the time, the net is not made by plastic as now, people used one kind of tree dried it to make ropes, and then they used those ropes to make net. The fishing village located in Vam Lung (Lung river mouth), the river named Rach Vinh Hang (Vinh Hang channel) where now placed four river Day of our study. At peak the village had 280 households (Tiet Hung Sy, former chair of the commune). The village then moved back in land by a government plan in 1989, because the village population increasing fast and they destroy the mangrove forest. He started offshore Day from 1995, so he had total 23 years doing inshore Day. At the beginning Mr. Hoang had 13 gates, the number is increasing year by year, and in 2008 he had total 70 gates. Also in 2008 he had to invest nearly 300 million VND to buy 30 wooden pillars and other materials to fix his Days. Mr. Hoang now is the biggest Day owner of Tan An commune. He got married in 1970 and had a first child in 1972, he had total 5 children, and his last daughter was born 1984.
American spread dioxin from 1967-1969 and destroyed the forest, the village at the time living under mangrove had to move around to the place where mangrove had not yet cleared.
He think that he caught more of shrimp/fish during 1975 to 1980 compare to this time because not many people doing Day at that time. How ever, according to him there is nothing change in number of species. From 1990 to date, shrimp price keep the same or a bit going down, but fish price is going up.
He built his big house in 2000. Total people working full for him is 40 include: 20 people working on boats, and 20 working on Days. When boats arrived, about 20-40 people more will be hired for fish and shrimp collecting.
4. Mr. Ngo Van Nam
Mr. Nam started offshore Day in 1998. He asked for help from technical people from Tra Vinh province to make Day for him. Before that he had working with Day Sao (one kind of offshore Day but catching only one season of winter, fixed to the bottom by big mangrove trees. There is no such big mangrove like that now; they have to buy the tree called “Ke” from Dang Nong province – highland central part of Vietnam with about 10 million VND per one). At that time he had two boats bought from the state.
Mr. Nam was born in 1952. Before working with Day, he had worked with his farther but net fishing only since his 25 years old. At that time he fished at the west coast of Ca Mau. In 1973 after America and North Vietnam signed in at Paris agreement, war was less fierce, he moved to Tan An commune, Ngoc Hien district but lived in the forest. From 1975 he moved to the current place. He and his farther had continue with Net for about 2 years, and from 1977 his farther told him should change from Net to Day, because it is not easy with Net any more (less fish, difficult to share products with partners…). He started with only 3 gates when his farther had 5 gates at that time. Their Days is about 2 miles from shore line. As he said there were a lot of shrimp and fish at that time, because there were not many fishermen.
Mr. Nam got married in 1971 when he was still at Cai Doi Vam (west coast of Ca Mau). The first daughter was born in 1972, but she died. The second daughter born in 1975 when he had already settled at Tan An commune. He had 5 children more, so total is 7. He is very proud that when the war ended his boat was selected to present in one documented movies, which sailed to Hon Khoai Island. From 1976 to 1978 he also participated in mangrove reforestation, so he has an experience of how to plan a Rhizophora. Those forests he involved to plan at that time now already exploited, and replaced with new generation.
His offshore Day has 60 gates now, there are 12 people working at sea, staying on Days, and 10 people working on boats. He had to pay salary 1.5 million VND per month and daily food provided for people who work on boats. Those people who work at Day on the sea, he has to pay one gate in the six gates that one person responsibility (that cost about 5 million per month per one person at the sea).
5. Mr. Chau Khai Hoang
Mr. Hoang was born in 1957; he became a fisherman from 1973 and started offshore Day from 1999. In 1973 he began with 5 gates inshore Day. From 1973 to 1999 he increased his inshore Day to 15 gates. The reason he moved to offshore Day is he saw Mr. Hong Van Hoang started offshore Day from 1994 who earned a lot of money. He started with 15 gates of offshore Day in 1999 and increased to 25 gates in 2001. From 2003 he moved his Day 4 miles farer from the coastal line, and also gaining more gates. Up to date he has total 55 gates and two boats. He has 11 people working at the sea, and 11 people working on boats. When the boats arrived, if many fish, they have to call other people to select fish/shrimp, if not many, people in the family will work on that, also with people who working on boats.
Mr. Hoang has 4 children (3 sons and a daughter), his all three sons working on boats; two of them are captain of his two boats. The first son was born in 1981; the last daughter was born in 1988. Other people working on boats are sons of his brother and hired. He stopped going to his Day daily from 2005, his sons instead, he just go there to visit some times when needed only.
During war time, his family stayed in the forest close to Vam Lung and made a very close shore line Day. They went there to set up day in about 15 minutes then backed to the forest. After a while they went there again to get products. These works have done very quickly to pass the American warships. After the war he had a time to involve in river Day and also shrimp farming, but then he quit, because that were not interesting jobs for him. He said he was born for the ocean; he has to live with the sea. When was questioned about if do you know about the start of river Day, but he doesn’t know when it began, but surely that more than 100 years. He said that the Day located his house now have 4 owners already. His family has 5 generation in Ca Mau.
About the mangrove forest during war time, when was asked about it, he said Avicenia was not killed by dioxin but Rhizophora. So when the forest attacked by dioxin, they moved to the areas when Avicenia were dominant to build new houses. He doesn’t know why people were not affected by Agent Orange, that is different with people who lived far inland, but the reason may be the local people was not drink underground water, only rain water, and daily tide washed out and diluted dioxin.
He thinks the best crop of offshore Day is 2001-2002 because of production as well as price. Shrimp at that time about 20,000 VND per 1kg, and diesel oil only 2,500 VND per liter. This year 2008 the production also good, better than last year, because of oil price going up so trawler boats had not working, that cause more shrimp/fish available for Day. But the problem is price of production is low, about 18,000 VND per 1kg shrimp. That make his business is still in difficult.
6. Mr. Huynh Van Tho
Mr. Tho was born in the family that working on river Day. His grand farther had already doing the job. Before his Day (his father’s Day) was about 2km inland, but it was also in this Vinh Hang River. He moved to this current place on 1997, after Linda’s storm. He doesn’t know when his Day began, he just known that when he grown up, the Day was there.
Mr. Tho was born in 1960, and married in 1980. His first son born in 1981, but declare with local government that he born in 1976 with some delicate reasons. The first son owned one Day on this river also, about 4 km to the sea. Mr. Tho has three sons and one daughter. The second son joined military and works at Ca Mau province. The third son stopped studying secondary school at Nam Can back home to work with him. The last daughter is studying secondary school in Tan An commune.
His Day has two gates and that are the most productive Day in this river (His son’s Day also). He built new house in 2005, that is big and beautiful one compare to others in this area.
7. Mr. Tiet Hung Sy
10mMr. Sy was born in 1962; he knew how to fish and joined with his father’s fishing since his 15 years old. From 1983 he started to work at the commune. He became chief of the Tan An commune in 1989 and his position lasted to 1999. From 1999 he moved to the district. After some months he again moved to province. But then he retired and backed home in 2001. The reason is at Ca Mau province, he was a director of a water supply company, when he had no education on the filed. Because of no knowledge on water supply, he got many difficulties on developing and implementing projects. Even he has experience and certificates on management and politics. Finally, he had kicked out the system.
During his position at the commune (1983 forward), he was still working with is farther on inshore Day. This kind of Day (also called No) used for catching Ca Duong. Now the government stopped to use this kind of fishing, because this involved some people, not many people. And also because this “No” used a lot of mangrove trees, they have to cut the forest.
Mr. Sy married in 1985; he had two children, a son and a daughter. His son is 22 now, no job, he doesn’t want to work or study (his uncle taught him jewelry, but this job is difficult to earn money now). His daughter is 18 years old.
Before 1997, there was a village with about 280 households in the forest, closed to the sea. People who lived there mostly involved in fishing, but also illegal cutting the forest. After Linda storm in 1997, the government moved all 280 households to inland to a settling village.
When asked about the history of river Day, he also doesn’t know when it began, but he said the regulation is not change; the distance between two Days is about 2-3 km, to make sure fish/shrimp gather again. The governments at any time (during French governed, South Viet Nam, and now) strictly treat if the owners have not paid enough tax. Then the ownership will be changed to other people.
Following Mr. Sy, production is not only one factor to form a good crop, but also price. Fishermen remember the year that brings them most profit, not the year they catch most fish/shrimp.
Mr. Sy was a small child at the time mangrove cleared out by dioxin (6 years old), and he was not lived in the area at the time. But he joined the mangrove re-plan after 1975. The forest after 6-7 years affected by dioxin left only the core. The mangrove can not be recovered naturally. But it had developed very well with new planted Rhizophora. In fact the replant of mangrove started before ending of the war, because north soldier need a forest to hide south military, so they asked local people to re plant from 1972. The forestry company and forest management formed in 1989 (quite late). From 1975 to 1989 there were no forestry companies, but only forestry guard units.
As his opinion, forest management now has a lot of problem related to staffs of forest management units. They can sell trees to thief; shake hands with thief, early exploitation (6-7 years). He gave a good experience of mangrove exploitation since French colony, at that time when the trees got enough years to cut, they will leaved 1 good trees in about 100m, those leaved trees then naturally recover the forest by seed dropped in to the water. It is not like now, people in forest management staffs cut all the trees, and make a new re-plant, and as his opinion, this way is not as good as what people had done in the past.
8. Mr. Le Van Dai
Mr. Le Van Dai sold his boat to his son, Mr. Le Van Nhon, and there is a story about this business. As this year the government subsidize oil price to fishermen, all boats that proved go fishing at sea are allowed to get 20 million VND. Mr. Dai sold his boat to his son just some days before this policy issued. Mr. Dai’s second wife want the son share her 10 million VND subsidize, because as her opinion, this subsidize for one year, and the boat was sold in middle of the year. The son disagreed, he though that boat already sold, so everything should belong to him. Any way, when the boat was sold, the son had not paid all money, still in debt. So he uses 18 million VND to pay for that debt. Mr. Dai’s second wife continued to ask 10 million more. Mr. Nhon (the son) finally agreed with the condition: If next year the government continue subsidize 20 million, he will share her 10 million, but not this year.
Mr. Dai was born in 1952 in the family lived in HCMC, his family then moved to Vung Tau in 1968. He married his first wife in 1972 and has two children. He then divorced the first wife and went to Ca Mau in 1975. He started Day from 1976 in this area. Mr. Dai is a rarely educated fisherman which passed 10 classed in the secondary school. He now is the best logbook recording in the 27 fishermen selected. His daughter kill herself with unclear reason last year. Now he joined to Day with his son as “friend”, because he already sold the boat to his son.
9. Mr. Huynh Van Lap
Mr. Lap was born in 1981, but in the ID card is 1976, his farther Mr. Huynh Van Tho wants Mr. Lap younger brother joined army soon, then he have to change birthday of his children. Mr. Lap married his wife in 2000 and created this river Day by supports of his farther. He has two daughters, the first one was born in 2001, and the second one was born in 2004. His Day now has two gates; there is a family working with him, living close to his house now. He said the best crop is about the years of 2001 to 2003. The biggest fish he had caught is 25kg sea bass. Mr. Lap is the second best in logbook recording in Tan An commune.
10. Mr. Duong Van Bi
Mr. Bi was born in 1951. He started to do Day fisheries since his 17. At that time their Days were very close to the shore. Because afraid of American warships, they have to do very quickly to setup Days and run in to the forest, when the tide was good for net out, they run from forest to Day and got the production. Some time, the warships passed their Days, and took all Days in to ships, so when fishermen got back to their Days, nothing left. American warships took Days, run up to Hon Khoai Island and throw the Days in to the sea. Some times American warships had intensive patrol fishermen had to stop Day fishing, during the time they had to fishing around rivers, could not go out to the sea.
Mr. Bi married his first wife in 1973, and had two children. He joined army in 1975 and went to Cambodia battle filed. He got back home in 1979 and lives with his second wife (up to now). He had 4 children with the second wife. His second wife already have two children with her first husband who is a soldier and die in the Cambodia war. So now he and his wife have total 8 children. The son also a Day fishermen, but not go with his boat, but his uncle boat. And his brother’s son is working for him. He just changed his Day to new position, he though new place is not a good one. It is closer to river mouth. He plans to move it back soon to the old place. Before his Day located as the follow: Hai Bi, Sau Chieu, Ba Thien, Nam Trau, 1998 Ba Thien and Nam Trau moved to offshore (have to check again this information). His Day is about 30 minutes from Rach Goc river mouth. The old one located the left side of river mouth; the new one locates in the right side. In 2009 he wants to move back to old place.
The boat they use now belong to his farther, because his farther is old now, so he allows his children (Mr. Bi brothers to use it). Each person uses the boat now have 2-4 gates, they share oil. Each trip it takes about 120,000 VND oil as he run slow. If he runs fast, each trip the boat can take 500,000 VND oil. Mr. Bi wants to do offshore Day, how ever no place available now. So he had to stay with his inshore Days. When asked about what time Days have the biggest production in the year, he said that before 1975 and from 1979 to 1895 (because they stop fishing in 1975, and he joined army from 1975-1979), during this time, with only 4 gates, he got a mountain of shrimp, people sitting this side of shrimp can not see people sitting the other sides. He thought that the shrimp production going down since 1997, after Linda storm. The main reason is trawler boats have been increasing fast, that make production of Day’s going down. But last year, oil price’s gone up, caused of trawlers stay home, caused more shrimp/fish for Day. For inshore Day friends (fishermen who don’t have boat, but have some gates of Day, go together with boat owner) don’t have to pay any thing (food, oil…) but they may have to buy cigarette, wine. But they have to work for the boat owner when net in and net out.
Inshore Day fishermen some times have problem in define their Day on the sea, they some times missed their Days and had to go back because they don’t have GPS, they have compass only. But in the rainy days or bad weather, big waves made compass had errors and they can not find their Days. Usually they have used their experience to find the Days: they started at river mouth and run 180 degree follow compass, after 30 minutes they should meet their Day. If more than 40 minutes passed but there is still no Day found, that should be wrong direction. During night fishing time they may put the lamp on Days, then they try to find light from that lamps. But sometimes other boats (net fishermen) came and took the lamps away!!!
The different between offshore Day and inshore Day are:
- Offshore Day has small cottages attached and fishermen live in on the sea. Fishermen don’t stay at inshore Day.
- Offshore Day fix net with tree until the net broken and need to repair. Inshore Day only fix trees to the bottom, net take in, out the boat, attach to the trees every time they fish.
- Offshore Day about 10-12 miles from shoreline. Inshore Day from 2-8 miles from shoreline.
Inshore Day is not a good business as one year Mr. Bi can save only 2-3 million VND. That is much different with offshore Day of Mr. Hong Van Hoang, which consist 160 gates, and can save about 1 billion a year. Mr. Hoang recorded in logbook only 70 gates (he said the last are belong to friends; have to check this information again). Mr. Ngo Van Nam each year can save about 50 million VND. But Mr. Nam still have old trees, he has about 50 trees in 3 years, which he can sell 5 million VND for each tree.
When asked why Mr. Nam has about 60 gates but the profit less two time than Mr. Hoang 120 gates. Mr. Bi though because of the position, Day of Mr. Hoang catch more fish than Day of Mr. Nam. But that may not the main reason, Mr. Hoang has more benefit because he is not in debt, he sell his product with higher price, and he also buy from other fishermen products to sell to processing plant to get profit.

1 comment:

  1. These are good stories, but for your work we need to be a bit more systematic ... I suggest that we make a formal survey in which, based on these interviews, we can now pose some more questions that can assist the interpretation of your data


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