Fisheries in India are highly diverse and seem to involve a wide range of people, including fishermen, off-loading companies, export houses, processing units, ice factories and market vendors. Both men and women are involved in the industry and depend on it for their livelihoods. This diary is a quick peek inside the lives of the fishing communities of Gujarat and Maharashtra in north‐western India.
In some fishing villages, such as Okha, bullock carts are used to transport ice from factories to trawlers preparing for their next trip. The boats can go out for up to a month, and ice is extremely important to ensure the fish catch stays fresh until they return.
Artisanal boats anchored in the small town of Dwarka await clearer skies and calmer seas. Even though the ban on fishing during monsoon season ended on 15 August, the continual unpredictable weather and cyclone warnings keep the fishermen from going out to sea during their most productive season.
After cleaning and salting, ribbonfish are hung to dry along the coastal areas of Porbander. These will be packed into boxes and exported by the processing companies.
In the small coastal village of Sutrapada, women sit outside their homes mending nets before fishermen embark on their next journey out to sea.
In Veraval, a major fishing hub in Gujarat, colourful trawlers form a long labyrinth on this coastal stretch. The dark color of the water is a consequence of poor water circulation in the area combined with the paint leeching from the boats.
At the local fish market in Veraval, women have set up their stalls along the road to prepare the shark catch for sale. After bleeding the animals, they cover their wooden boards with the blood and cut the sharks into square pieces. The meat is sold locally for Indian curry dishes.
Sunrise at Sasoon Dock in Mumbai is an unforgettable experience and not for the faint hearted. Hundreds of people, including fishermen, vendors, workers and retailers, shove each other across the dock in a frenzy to finish their business.
In Mumbai, after the shrimp catches are landed, women from the fishing community are responsible for sorting the catch and ensuring it is ready for trading.
A trawler leaves Mumbai on another fishing journey. It is said that coastal fisheries no longer provide enough profit, so fishermen now have to travel further offshore for longer periods of time to ensure a substantial catch.