Raul Gomez is an old man who fishes with five crew on a clipper in the seas known as the coral triangle, and he has spent two months now without taking enough to feed his family.
Riding out storms and searing heat in western Pacific waters, the burly, sun-inked Filipino uses a pole and line to reel in yellowfin tuna the size of an adult human.
This has been his trade for 40 years, but it is becoming tougher as fisheries in this region – one of the planet’s most important centres of tuna production – face the prospect of total collapse.
Gomez did not hear the dire prediction this year by the world’s leading body of biodiversity scientists, who warned that exploitable fish reserves in Asia-Pacific waters were on course to crash to zero by 2048. All he knows is that with every year that passes, he has to spend ever longer at sea to catch ever smaller tuna, at greater personal risk and lower reward. Gomez says that when he started out at the age of 14, he and his father would sail from General Santos port to the Sarangani Bay on a small bangka (outrigger boat). One night was enough to return the next day with 10 tuna, often weighing in at more than 100kg.oduction – face the prospect of total collapse.
The fisherman sees his wife and children just two or three times a year even though they live less than half an hour from the port. His eldest son comes to spend a few hours with him on the foredeck, knowing his father could be away not just for months, but for years.
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