Photos from fishing boats and tips on how to tell whether fish is fresh or not " />

Fishing on Azerbaijan’s Caspian shore

Photos from fishing boats and tips on how to tell whether fish is fresh or not

Siazan is a small town in the north-east of Azerbaijan, on the highway leading from the capital to the north along the Caspian coast.

Many in Siazan make their living through fishing – like Vugar and his friends.

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Vugar has been fishing on the Caspian Sea since he was about 11-12 years old. He has been fishing from a boat for more than five years. Before that, he caught fish with a rod from the shore.

Fishermen catch Caspian white fish, sturgeon and vobla (also known as the Caspian roach) in the area. However, it is forbidden to catch sturgeon as in 2001, Azerbaijan adopted a temporary moratorium on sturgeon fishing. Moreover, sturgeon is not found close to the shore, says Vugar: “You have to go very far to find them, and on a small fishing boat…”

“We built this house for ourselves in order to wait for dawn or suitable weather right on the beach.”

“During the day we go out to sea at least twice, and at the most, 4-5 times. First when we cash our nets, then to check on them, and later, to pull out the fish”.

“Often birds also fall into the nets. They are trying to get the fish, their talons are tangled in the nets, so we let them go”.

“Once, two boards on the side of the boat were tore off by the wind. I told a friend that now the main thing is not to be afraid and not to panic. He got the water out of the boat with buckets, and I rushed to the emergency hatch in the stern. In such cases, you need to open the lid of the hatch, sit back in the stern, and the bow of the boat begins to rise. The water in the boat rushes down and flows through the hatch. We waited 4-5 hours until the wind subsided, and quickly returned to the shore".

“You never know how many fish you’ll catch. Sometimes the weather is good, but there are no fish. And sometimes there are even more fish in the nets than you expected”.

“People say that it is impossible to eat fish in the hot season. But it is not. Fish can be eaten both in winter and in summer. The important thing is freshness.

The freshness of fish is determined as follows: fresh fish have gills that are light and moist, and if you press a finger on it, the dents in their gills even themselves out.”

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