8 Months at sea: Living for Lobsters
In January 2016 I spent 15 days on a fishing boat off the coast of Honduras documenting commercial trap lobster fishing for the World Wildlife Fund. The project was part of a bigger assignment about the fishing industry in Central America.After two days of navigation aboard a supply boat I reached the fishing banks 300 miles northeast of Roatan Island in Honduras. There I had the opportunity to see the fishing process and visit many fishing boats. Lobster fishing represents a multimillion dollar business. With an average of 37,000 tons of lobster fished every year at an estimated value of US $500 million, it provides a livelihood for approximately 250,000 people along the Mesoamerican reef. (FAO 2013). It is one of the largest and most important fishing industries in Central America and Caribbean. A large part of the catch is consumed in the United States.This body of photographic work focused on the people who work and live aboard the fishing boats during the eight months of the lobster fishing season. During my 15 days on board, I listened to their stories, got to know their worries and heard their wishes. I ate with them and smiled with them. Living on board was hard. I cannot imagine eight months on the ocean, working and living in their conditions.During their eight months at sea, the fishermen have no contact with their families back home. They are usually very young due to the hard living and working conditions. Each fisherman makes an average of $200 per month, which is about how much a lobster dinner for two would cost In a nice restaurant anywhere in London, New York, Tokyo or Rome. I brought with me candies, movies, coca cola, music CDs and medicines and they were all very happy to see me. I felt their welcome and it was a great opportunity for me to share time with them. When I asked them to pose for me, they were excited and all put on their best t-shirts. They keep their clothes in the plastic bags used to store the frozen lobster in order to keep them dry. They looked like happy kids ready to do something new and exciting. Honduras is one of the poorest county in the western world and these people often don’t have other job opportunities but they can eat lobster everyday. How many people can afford to eat lobster everyday? What a paradox.