Taiwan, August 6, 2021 – We learned a lot from our encounters with fishers. It’s important to underline some positive elements from which we can put into practice as we live together in society.
First, it’s about unity in diversity. Fishers are coming from different countries and sail together in far-distant seas. They have also different religious beliefs and speak different languages. No matter how diverse they are, they try to live together as one community.
Indonesians learn how to speak Tagalog and the Filipinos learn how to speak Bahasa Indonesian. Indonesians sing Tagalog songs and Filipinos sing Indonesian songs. As for religious beliefs, they know that some foods cannot be eaten by Muslims. It’s always great when a catholic fisher reminds us not to offer pork for Muslim brothers. Indeed, they know how they are so diverse, and they know how to respect each other.
Secondly, the value of sacrifice to build a better future for their families back home. Most of the fishers work in distant seas because they want to feed their families back home, to pay the school fee for their children, brothers, and sisters. Without fishers, many kids and young people cannot attain formal education.
Thirdly, the value of endurance and patience. We know that working at sea is not easy. It’s often considered a 3D job (dirty, dangerous, and difficult). They endured those hardships and have the patience to continue working until the contract finish.
Lastly, they are silent contributors to food supplies in the world. We often say that without fishers, we cannot have fish and seafood on the table. Nowadays people choose to eat fish and seafood for health reasons. Often, we forget those who risk their lives against the storms in far distant seas to have fish and seafood arrive at our table.
As several fishers are not well paid, experience unexplained deductions, or even not paid for several months, can we still be silent and let them struggle alone? It’s important that all government institutions, NGOs, and all ordinary people are called to make sure that the rights of fishers are well protected. We do this because we care for humanity where fishers are part of it. Make it a call for everyone because most of us are fish and seafood eaters.