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With its 3444km of coastline, Vietnam lends itself very well to thriving fishing industry. After ships have unloaded their precious daily cargo, owners urgently need to make sure that their vessels are in good shape for the next journey. They only have a window of a few days to get their ship into order, and that is where net menders come in. In towns like Cái Đôi Vàm in Cà Mau Province, the sight of menders sitting in long lines hard at work is a common one.

The work never stops. Fishers check their nets every day, and the smallest tear must be fixed immediately before they break further and allow fish to escape. To earn good money, the worker must have eagle eyes to spot even the tiniest holes, and precise, steady hands to mend them. It’s not high-paying, but it has brought many families out of poverty. They work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m, with a 30-minute lunch break. Unlike sailing, this is a not-too-strenuous indoor job that people can even do in their spare time. There are no schools or classes for it; the art is passed down from expert to expert. With a brief look, a seasoned mender will know exactly what thread to choose and where to start. Observers may be astonished at the speed of menders’ hands flitting across the nets, but it only takes a few days to get the hang of things. People can take anywhere from 3 to 9 months, even a year, to truly master mending. Experienced menders don’t have the time to teach new ones, so they mostly learn by copying.

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After separate pieces are made, the menders link them into a larger net. It’s a delicate balancing act to maintain slack, flexibility, and softness so that captured fish can calmly swim inside the net without struggling to get out. The installation of floats and weights is also extremely important because it decides the buoyancy, heaviness, and tension of the net, and the rings must stay in the same direction so that line wouldn’t get stuck when the net is pulled up. 

Net mending is heavily tied to the rise and fall of fishing. Whether they brave the sea or steadfastly fix the nets every day, everyone in a fishing village contributes to, and hopes for, ships’ return to the harbor, weighed down by fish and shrimp.

Reviewed by

Diep Van

Phone: +84901166884

Email: diep.van@ftripvietnam.com

Diep Van

Founder & Photography Guide

Specialties: Culture, landscape, portrait, hiking, active and adventurous tour

Besides my unlimited passion for traveling, a professional tour guide for over a decade, I have been taking photographs since sitting at Hanoi of the University of Culture in the early 2000s. Photography started as a hobby but it was seriously taken due to my work relations and my significant passion for the beauty of our world, especially in Southeast Asian parts such as Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar.

Within a few years of taking photographs, my works began to be recognized by many reliable international publications such as AFAR Travel, The Times, and The Daily Telegraph newspaper. In addition, I continuously add to my growing profile by winning numerous major awards: 3rd Position of The Independent Photographer 2018, 1st Position of Amateur Photographer of the year 2018, Grand Prize Winner of the AFAR Travel Photography 2019, and a Gold Award of San Francisco Bay International Photography 2020.

I photograph a wide variety of subjects, from travel to landscapes to street scenes. I enjoy documenting the East’s rich cultural heritage and its land soaked in glorious sunrise or sunset light in remote and secluded spots. And, I am very happy to share my knowledge and experience with you. You can visit Luminousvietnamtour to explore tour!


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