Vietnam Fishing Communities by John Meehan

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VN Fishing JPM-14

In this post I’m sharing some images from a long term project on Vietnamese fishing communities. 

I’ve visited Vietnam four times in the past six years. Apart from constantly taking photographs on the streets, I’ve been actively pursuing three specific projects on fishing communities, market porters and portraits of seniors around Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi.

I hadn’t planned the projects from the outset. They emerged during the first visit and I’ve actively sought out locations on subsequent visits.

More on the fishing communities project…

Vietnam has a coastline of 3,260 km and 2860 rivers so, unsurprisingly, fishing is a major industry. It contributes around 10% of the country’s GDP and sees Vietnam as one of the top 5 fish exporters in the world.

So far I’ve photographed fishing communities in three locations. These are the Tam Giang Lagoon close to the ancient capital of Hue, Duy Hai just outside of the touristic town of Hoi An and Mui Ne a coastal resort town east of Ho Chi Minh City in the south. All three areas have large scale fishing communities.

Tam Giang Lagoon is a very interesting location measuring 220 sq km or twice the size of my home city of Liverpool . The lagoon is one of the largest in SE Asia and is fished by around 45,000 fishermen and their families and supports a further 250,000 people in related activities around the lagoon.

When photographing these communities it is very apparent how whole families are involved from young children to the very elderly. There is also a fairly strict division of labour based on gender. Men go catch the fish while women land it and process it quayside. This is apparent in many of the images below.

My fascination with this subject stems from the fact that it shows traditional Vietnamese life continuing relatively unchanged as the country hurtles itself towards developed nation status on the back of globalisation.

I have split the images by location.

Mui Ne images

VN Fishing JPM-16

VN Fishing JPM-15

VN Fishing JPM-17

VN Fishing JPM-18

Tam Giang Lagoon images

VN Fishing JPM-8

VN Fishing JPM-4

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Duy Hai images

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VN Fishing JPM-20

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6 Replies to “Vietnam Fishing Communities by John Meehan”

  1. Very thoughtful images John. For me the selection combines, fine art, travel and documentary styles. I particularly like the first image in the Tam Giam Lagoon series.


    1. Thanks Peter. Given the timescale covered by these images (2009-14), coinciding with significant refinement of my style, I agree there is noticeable variability. John


  2. all great images, however the one with the two boys…one holding the wages while rubbing his eyes shows so much to me about hard work and the unity you described.


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