In Masinloc, Philippines, the life of a fisherman like Julius Pacabis is filled with danger and uncertainty. While fishing has always been considered one of the most dangerous professions in the world, the risk increases for Filipino fisherfolk, who often sail without safety equipment like radios, safety vests, or navigation supplies. Moreover, the recent blockade by Chinese vessels at Scarborough Shoal, which is located within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, has made life even more difficult for fishermen. Despite the UN's arbitration in favor of the Philippines, Chinese vessels continue to forcibly remove Filipino fisherfolk from the area, resulting in major declines in their catch each year.
To cope with these challenges, fishermen like Pacabis have had to find alternative ways to support their families. Nestor Constantino, for example, builds boats and nets while Jerry Edradan fishes in municipal waters for smaller catches. Others use fish aggregating devices, known as payaos, to attract and catch larger fish. However, these devices are expensive and not accessible to many fisherfolk, leaving them with no choice but to brave the dangers of the open sea.
Despite the challenges, Pacabis finds beauty in his life at sea. As he launches his wooden outrigger before dawn, he takes a moment to appreciate the difficult and beautiful life he leads. For fishermen like him, the ocean is not just a place of work but also a way of life.
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