A long row of Chinese fishing nets are an iconic landmark of Fort Kochi’s sea front. Every evening, small groups of fishermen standing on thick, long dead tree trunks of this curious contraption are seen pulling a bunch of ropes that gently lifts the half-immersed nets, bringing out a handful of fish that seem too small for the size of the net. In the winter months, when plenty of tourists trot the shore in search of amusement, the fish are sold almost as soon as they are lifted. A bunch of restaurants that shout out ‘you buy the fish, we cook it,’ make up all the market required for the little bounty secured from the nets. One summer evening, I walked into one of the very few nets that was functioning even when the tourists were away, and spent an hour taking pictures and talking to ‘P Samuel’ who was happy to show me around. Some images from the visit.
A ship moves towards Cochin Harbour on the shore opposing the Chinese fishing nets.
The nets are pushed into the water when some one walks on the mast and increases the weight on the far end of the assembly that stretches into the water. To bring the net back up, four to five people pull a bunch of ropes attached to the mast, in a way similar to drawing waters from the well using a pulley.
One of the fishermen in the group walks up the pole to push it down the water and returns after the job is done.
Pulling the booty of fish after lifting the nets. The net is usually kept immersed for a duration of ten to fifteen minutes. During the summer months when I was there, an immersion typically brought back a haul of one to two kilos of fish.
The lights of Kochi Harbour on the faraway shore come on after sunset.
Some time after the sunset, fishermen light a lantern that hangs over the water and attracts more fish. The colourful skies, the lights from the other shore and the bright lamp hung with a rope suddenly transform the atmospehere around the nets.
The colours change quickly after sunset, into a deep hue of blue on cloudy days or into deep orange colours in the clear days of winter months.