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Fish Tales – Episode 3: Pavlos from Limassol

Welcome to another episode of Fish Tales. This time, we are in Cyprus.

By Jeremy Herry

«My name is Pavlos. I live in Cyprus. I’m sixty-two, a father of four, and I’ve been fishing for more than forty years.»

Being a fisher. Caring for nature.

«Year after year, there are fewer and fewer fish. This is obvious in all ports of Cyprus. So, we have come to a compromise: whatever we catch, we sell…

We come to work with hope, and go home with 30 or 40 euros in our pockets. What else can I do? This has been my job for more than forty years now, and it has been my only source of income my whole life. I am a father. I have four children. Two of them are boys and both in their thirties. Neither of them has ever wanted to become a fisher.

Life at sea is hard. And year by year, my children see me catch fewer and fewer fish. They don’t like it any more than I do. But one of them, my eldest, comes and helps me sometimes.

The number of fish is so low, I have to compete with turtles and dolphins – they now rip our nets to find fish to eat. So what I do lately is to set the nets at dusk and collect them in the morning. One time, I found all the fish I caught had been eaten. A night’s worth of work was lost. I could not sell anything.

Nevertheless, I keep going, hoping things will get better. I change locations. I move up or down the area. No day is the same. I might fish in the same exact spot one week in a row and catch nothing, and a fellow fisher will catch loads. What can I say? Fish are smart.  

 I have tried so many ways to avoid turtles and dolphins, but none of them work in the long-term. I might avoid turtles for a week, and then the following week, they’ve eaten my fish again. It’s the same with dolphins. I have used pingers – devices that emit frequencies that are supposed to drive dolphins away. But they’re clever. They have come to learn that the sound of a pinger means there are nets in the area, which means there is fish for them to eat!

I love seeing young people coming to help us. However, they need to understand that nothing can really be done. We need the support of our government. They need to stop issuing licenses to purse-seiners and trawlers. A purse-seine is an enormous net that can be more than two kilometres long. Trawlers drag huge nets across the bottom of the sea. Those things have destroyed everything and have removed all sorts of marine life. There is nothing left anymore. 

Yesterday, a purse-seiner collected more than two tons of tuna. Two tons! What do you think happens when they do that every year? Trawlers are the same. There is no fish left. None. 

But I can’t stop. This is my life. It has always been.»

Image credits: © BirdLife Europe and Central Asia / Silvio Rusmigo August

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