Ismail Al Farsi captures a way of life among the sardine fishermen of Dhofar that’s persisted for generations, in tune with the sea.
Early morning, they cast their nets with the sun, their bounty glinting like silver; for a full catch is a treasure indeed for the sardine fishermen of Taqah, a wilayat in the Governorate of Dhofar. Men – fathers, grandfathers, sons, have plied their trade in these waters and along these shores for generations.
Known locally as ‘Al Dhawaghi’, Oman’s sardine fishing season begins in the southern governorates of the Sultanate in October after the replenishing monsoon season and runs until April each year.
Fishing in groups of 16 to 20, led by the most experienced fisherman in their crew, it’s a trade on which their livelihoods depend. The spoils of the catch are divided among the crew, with the largest share going to its leader. Starting with the dawn, they gather on the beach to cast off – massive, hand-repaired nets at the ready to see what the catch of the day will hold.
If they’re lucky they’ll return nets heaving with silvery sardines, knee-deep in the Omani tides that have borne them bounty for hundreds of years, as the gulls swoop and circle.