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Fishing in Bahia

Flavio, a fisherman from Praia do Forte, a village north of Salvador da Bahia, discusses how tourism is changing his family’s history. [Photo: Boats in Salvador, by AJ Paris.]

Fish is huge in Brazil. In fact, Brazilians consume almost twice as much fish as the Americans. The only country that consumes more fish in the world is Japan, the land of the Sushi.

“Fishing is my life,” said Flávio, a fisherman from Praia do Forte, a village north of Salvador da Bahia.

Praia do Forte, where Flávio was born and raised, has a long beach known for its clear waters, white sand, natural pools, rivers and an ecological reserve of native flora and fauna. All of that makes it a tourist spot, making it difficult for some locals to do what they had been doing for ages.

“My grandfather, and his grandfather,” smiles Flávio, as he shows me pictures of men in his family, including his grandfather, his father, and his two brothers, “We have all been fishermen.”

These days, things are difficult. That is why he decided to work in Salvador. The above photo was taken in Salvador where Flávio makes daily journey, spending around four hours in his commute.

“I wish my country was the best in fishing,” he smiled, telling me that Peru has a fishing industry as much as nine times larger than Brazil. “We have the longest coast in South America, but we are terrible at fishing,” he laughed.

Flávio says that if Brazil valued fishing the same way it values tourism that the country would be making better economical leaps.

Nevertheless, fish is an important industry to the country. According to FOA, or the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Brazil became the fourth largest producer in the region in 2011. The budget of the Ministry of Fishing and Aquaculture (Ministério da Pesca e Aquicultura, or MPA) is currently about R$ 300 million, which equals to about 96 million USD.

“Unfortunately,” says Flávio, with tear in his eyes, “My son doesn’t want to be a fisherman, even though I raised him in the water– I thought him fishing when he was seven. I suspect his son won’t even know how to fish.”

AJ Paris is a New York based photographer and the author of the coffee table book Men Around the World.

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