Saturday, May 17, 2008

Los Pescadores (The Fishermen)

For several years now I have been working on a project which some day I will hopefully turn into a book. Shortly after
i moved to New Mexico from Maryland, I started travelling back home mainly to go to the beach and drink beer. Soon under
a light buzz I started noticing what was always in front of me and that was the fishermen in El Salvador, my own people. I grew up near the ocean until I was about to turn eleven and migrated to the United States. My uncle would take us the beach every Sunday and what always caught my attention was the fishermen returning in the afternoons with the catch of the day. Today I'm trying to return home as often as I can to photograph these fishermen pulling their nets at odd times of the day to find a surprise caught on the net. I just got back on April 13th from a two week trip to El Salvador where I concentrated my efforts around the fishermen on the island of Meanguera which is located on the gulf of Fonseca. I've gone there several times where I met Don Francisco Orellana seen in the second photo. Don Francisco, is a native of the Island who knows the ocean like the back of his hand. He tells me stories about the fishermen like himself and the struggles they go through just to survive. Fishing in these waters of the Pacific ocean means statying out at sea for several days because gas costs so much in those areas. These fishermen navigate the waters with now compass, GPS system, life vests, or radios. They are at the mercy of God out there and luckily they always return to a familiar light and warmth found on the island of Meanguera. I plan to keep going back every year to capture these fishermen so their experience will be documented. Today they encounter international competition from foreign comerical fishing vessels from japan, the U.S, and Europe. These are vessels who violate international laws which prohibit them from dragging their nets three miles from shore or closer. As a result of these violations the native fishermen have to go out deeper and deeper out at sea to catch what they would just off shore on their backyard just several years ago.
Shark fishermen now must go some 50 miles out at sea just to make their trip worth the effort. They traveled in fiberglass boats which is a change from the old dugout canoes of the past.