Words and photos by Avan Podhajsky
Talalla is a small village located on the southern tip of Sri Lanka.
I spent some time in the area on a recent trip, shooting the local fishermen and their traditional net fishing techniques known as seine fishing. The method, used widely across Sri Lanka, involves pulling large nets into the ocean at daybreak and using a large group to haul it back in, mainly catching fish that swim in large schools near the ocean surface.
Every morning, a rickety old boat pulls the nets out into the water and once they’ve reached a certain point, the men stand in the boat and start to yell back at the rest of the group who’ve remained on the beach. Then the teamwork really starts. The group of about 15 men begin to pull the net towards shore, which often takes around an hour to completely haul in.
Once the fish are safely onshore and the physical toil’s wrapped up for the morning, the restaurant owners and local merchants begin to crowd. Hustling and haggling begin within the tightly huddled group, with one fisherman holding court in the middle to sort the verbal transactions. As quickly as the crowd formed, they disperse, with their fresh goods from the sea tightly in hand—but only until tomorrow, when it begins all over again.