Central coastal fishermen leave the sea hinh anh 1Nam O coastal village in ​Da N​ang city is struggling for survival amid the urbanization whirlwind. (Photo laodong.vn)
Da Nang (VNS/VNA) - Hundreds of young men in the coastal villages around Da Nang  city have given up offshore fishing to work as taxi drivers, another sign that the traditional way of life in the central coast is changing fast, the Lao dong (Labour) newspaper reports.

Tuong, a Grab car driver in Da Nang city, explained, “I used to be an offshore fisherman, a captain, but I gave up this job to buy a car and earn money as a driver for Grab.”

He said his native land of Tho Quang ward, Son Tra district was home to hundreds of fishermen who had struggled to find work. They had to borrow money to buy cars to run Uber, Grab taxi services.

They were experienced in the sea but not always familiar with the roads, so while driving they depended on smartphones with the Google map app, according to Tuong.

“When driving to the mountainous area, the phone loses the signal and they have to ask for directions from local people,” he said. “However, they have the hardiness and honesty of seafarers.” 

According to Tuong, the group of Grab drivers he knows include 10 captains of offshore fishing boats in Son Tra district, who had to borrow from the bank half of the total 1 billion VND they needed to buy a car to work for Grab.

After the fishermen started new jobs, they still kept contact and helped each other, Tuong said.

They were accustomed to working together from years in an uncertain industry. Difficulties they faced were not only continuous natural disasters, pirates and attacks from foreign ships, but also a lack of manpower.

A captain or ship owner needs not only a love for the sea, but also capital and a team of loyal fishermen.  

Now, in Da Nang, it is difficult to find young offshore fishermen. After the coastal countryside areas were urbanised, traditional offshore fishing families didn’t want their children following the old ways.

In previous years, Da Nang ship owners could recruit fishermen in Quang Nam and Quang Ngai. But now, fishermen in the traditional coastal areas such as Nui Thanh, Duy Xuyen and Quang Nam are also quitting the job.

With such a scare labour force, ship owners struggled to pay enough to persuade fishermen to stick with them when they could go elsewhere.

Before every trip to sea, in addition to preparing food, equipment and fuel, the ship owners had to pay advance money for workers, at least 10 million VND each. 

Do Phu Ban, Director of Da Nang city’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that in recent years, the State has worked to support fishermen. But with old-fashioned methods and a seascape hard-hit by climate change and overfishing, the economic value of any single trip to sea is low.

Nguyen Su, former Secretary of the Hoi An Ancient Town’s Party Committee, has said that fishermen “will be exiled in their own land”.

Traditional offshore fishing villages have been destroyed by tourism projects, resorts, urban areas and industrial parks, so offshore fishing jobs have also gradually disappeared.

Binh, living at Tan An hamlet, Binh Minh commune, Thang Binh district, said that recently, people have poured money into buy land here at high price.

At Binh Duong commune’s coast, land prices have fluctuated between 4-5 million VND per sq.m. Many fishing households sold their garden plots for the 5-7 billion VND to buy a car and change jobs.

The money, however, cannot take away what people feel when they see traditional villages disintegrated and fishermen leaving the sea: pity.-VNA