The number of boats using the traditional fire fishing method in Jinshan, Taiwan, has fallen from 300 to just three. The remaining fishermen have a seasonal window from May to July when they can catch sardines using fire, a practice that dates back hundreds of years
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For hundreds of years, fishermen in Taiwan have been catching sardines with the help of fiery stick held over the edge of a boat. The fish are so attracted to the light that they jump out of the water and into the nets of the fishermen.
Fire fishing is as simple as it is mesmerizing. Fishing boats head out to sea during the night, and light up a bamboo stick covered with sulfuric soil at one end to create a bright flame. The sulfur dissolves in the water and the gas produced then flashes with fire. Drawn to the light spectacle, sardines jump out of the water by the hundreds at a time and end up in the fishermen’s nets. Sulfuric fire fishing was developed during the period of Japanese Rule and is now practiced only in the Jinshan sulfur harbor.
The annual Jinshan sulphuric fire fishing festival began in 2013 to help promote the practice, while photography tours have been set up to generate interest and raise money.
Photos just don’t do this amazing tradition justice, but luckily YouTube user Kenny Chen shot this amazing video of fire fishermen practicing their trade in Jinshan. Enjoy!
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