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Netting by the Dock of the Bay

October 05, 2003|Amr Nabil | Associated Press Writer

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt — Chanting to Allah, the fishermen of Qaitbey harbor slowly pull the long rope out of the water by hand, dragging in a net full of thousands of silvery sardines. It's the way fishermen here have worked for generations.

Hauling in the net, suspended from a rope yards long, takes the two dozen men an hour. The work yields 45 pounds of sardines on a good day, and they will be able to sell the fish to housewives and others leaning over the quay wall for a total of about 100 Egyptian pounds, or $16.

The process starts in early morning with men in two rowboats unfurling the net across the bay. As soon as the boats return to the quay, the fishermen begin to haul in the net.

Two of the fishermen act as human scarecrows, stripping off their clothes, diving into the sea and splashing in the water to scare seagulls away from the netted sardines. The fisherman call the gulls "pirates."

Once the catch is ashore, the fish are put into buckets and plastic bags, then displayed for shoppers.

Then the oldest of the fishermen, 76-year-old Gharib Mohammed, gets down to repairs. Holding the net taut between his hands and one toe, he sews up any holes using a piece of wood as a needle.

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