Two refurbished Ati fishing boats docked on land.

Ati fishing refurbish report

Two weeks ago, I first reported here on EarthVagabonds.com that we have started a ‘Fishing initiative’. This post, and the photo above, is a quick update.

The project is our latest effort to help support the impoverished indigenous Ati tribe of the Philippines during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Hundreds of Ati reside near us in Malay, Aklan on the Philippine island of Panay, where we have paused our early-retired global wandering and await the reset of international travel opportunities.

With the help of overseas donors we’ve sponsored a bunch of different Ati self-sustainability projects. And fishing feels like a natural and enduring enterprise that can help support the Ati as they navigate the tenuous post-coronavirus Philippine economy.

Ati fishing boats

The photo atop shows progress in the Ati fishing initiative: boats. There are now two solid, seaworthy, bright-red, paddle boats that our Ati friends can use to try to catch fish. Both watercraft are replacements for the rotting, leaky, dangerous dories one group of Ati had been using previously.

In addition, a third vessel is now under repair and will soon be added to their fleet. These ‘before’ photos below show the condition of the crummy crafts — and boat #3 in dry dock during refurb.

The upgrades are being done by Odel, an experienced boat builder and fisherman friend we’ve commissioned. For a few dollars and a steady supply of Tanduay Rum, Odel is happy to help. Thanks, Odel!

We’ve already seen the two fresh red boats in use — and now we feel a lot better seeing Ati women and children on the water.

Ati fishing nets

The next aspect of the Ati fishing initiative has also begun; acquiring some gear to make the tribe efforts easier and more productive. As mentioned previously, I did already give out new tackle to some of the Ati fishing ‘regulars’. But next is nets.

Admittedly, I am a little conflicted about providing fishing nets. A recent report by the World Wildlife Fund says lost and abandoned fishing nets are an “immortal menace” and the deadliest of all marine plastic debris.

Similarly, the provocative Netflix documentary “Seaspiracy” claims that 46% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – an area of floating marine debris twice the size of Texas – is comprised of fishing lines and nets.

(Incidentally, I am a WWF supporter and I highly recommend both the reports mentioned above to any enlightened inhabitant of this planet.)

No doubt, fishing nets can cause problems. But locally, they are highly sought after and used – especially during these hungry COVID times. Indeed, because the Ati have so little equipment of any kind, I’m confident that whatever we provide will be treasured – with little likelihood of loss.

Thus, we have begun to collect the necessary net components (listed below) which will then be assembled by another experienced local ‘fisher-friend’ at a reasonable rate.

Motor works

To fund the fishing projects, we do have a small donation budget remaining – which we always match. And with those monies we will also offer assistance with repair of Ati motorized boats.

The Ati chief already received about $75 towards the rebuild of a boat motor. And we’ve agreed to purchase another motor and driveshaft for a potential new construction.

Likewise, I am on the lookout for other mechanical and safety repairs that we can make. As seen in the photos below, I was on the beach the other day and witnessed the futile struggle to get a carburetor to cooperate.

Like a lot of Ati apparatus, the engine in question was in decrepit condition. No fishing for that family that day. But we are happy to pay for a replacement/rebuilt carburetor to get these Ati angling again.

Hopefully, like all our Ati projects, our small financial investments in fishing will make a big difference in daily lives, diets, and destinies.

As always, be thankful and generous (like our supporters), happy trails & more beer.
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