China beach in Central Vietnam is well known for its use in the 1970s hit TV show “China Beach.” I was lucky enough on this glorious morning to stumble upon a group of fishermen coming back from fishing. In some parts of Vietnam, the fishermen use round boats to fish when close to shore.
If the visual of a man in a round boat trying to row straight is baffling, I encourage you to watch this clip. It is not mine, but provides a nice visual to the boats as they are launched from the beach. Vietnam Boat Launching.
The fishermen bring their catch to shore and without missing a beat the women of the community are there to gather today’s catch and bring it to market. This is common of small-scale artisanal fisheries; the men fish and the women sell. At the market, the women will negotiate and bargain with local buyers about price and quantity.
I once sat next to two women on a bus negotiating the price of the vegetables one was going to sell the other. And while I didn’t understand the language their bodies and gestures told the whole story. It was a pleasant 45 min conversation and in the end both women walked away satisfied.
Fish markets are some of the livelier places to visit in South East Asia and I encourage you to visit one if you are in the region. And if you can’t get to South East Asia, have a walk through Pike Place Market and you will get a similar feeling or check out my other post Cambodia Market to see some videos from the Market in Siem Reap.
At the end of the morning the fishermen and the women will head home and prepare for the next day. Their livelihood depends on the abundance of fish for them to fish and provide for their families. While we will never see their fish in our markets, supporting the little guy, wherever he may be, is necessary to the overall success of sustainable seafood.
When you head to your local market to choose your fish, remember the local fishermen in Vietnam and how important the buyers of their catch are. Where are your local fishermen? Do you know how important your purchasing decisions are to their livelihoods and providing for their families. My experience with the fishermen in Vietnam reminded me how similar we are and how cross cultural similarities are always more apparent than differences. I wish more North Americans could have an up close and personal encounter with the fishermen who provide local and sustainable catch.