Fire fishing in Taiwan – a dying tradition that will soon disappear

Most fish caught using light – these are pelagic species, such as herring, mackerel, twenty, Anchov and Sardin. These fish spend most of their time, swimming at the surface of the water, which makes them easy prey for fishermen with light.

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Previously fishermen used oil lamps or burning torches. Modern fishermen use electric lights controlled by diesel generators. But in Taiwan, a large group of fishermen support an ancient tradition, using lights lit at the ends of bamboo sticks with chemicals – mainly sulfur.

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Every evening about 300 boats go swimming at the northeastern coast of Taiwan in search of Sardin, but only 3 of them use the traditional method of fire catch.

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Fishermen of Jinshan region, located north of Taipei, have a 3-month-old seasonal window from May to July, when they can catch sardines with fire.

Fire Fishing, Taiwan, Fire Fire Fishing, Taiwan, Photo 1

Fire fishing in Taiwan - a dying tradition that will soon disappear

During seasonal window, fishermen are located in the sea to 6 hours each night. In a good night fishing, they can catch from 3 to 4 tons of sardines, which can bring them more than 4500 US dollars – a small share in the fishing industry.

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Young people do not want to continue the tradition due to exhausting work and unstable wages. They are more likely to work on modern commercial fishing vessels that use electric light to attract fish.

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A few years ago, the government organized an annual fishing festival with sulfur fire to promote the dissemination of this practice and dissemination of information about its decline. The excursion boats take tourists and photographers next to traditional fishing boats during fishing, which gives them the opportunity to see a unique spectacle near.

Fire fishing in Taiwan - a dying tradition that will soon disappear

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