Fishing in a marine reserve

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A fishing boat sails in Mun Isle in Nha Trang. Watching local fishermen throw their rods at Nha Trang Bay Reserve has recently emerged as a new attraction at the resort town.

Nha Trang Bay Reserve in central Vietnam allows fishermen to catch fish but only using a rod and a line.

The 160-square-kilometer protected area, including 38 square kilometers of islands, the country's first marine reserve, was created last year.

Netting or any kind of large-scale fishing is prohibited even for fishermen, while tourists can only watch.

It was first named Hon Mun Marine Reserve, after its major island, Mun, which is covered in black rocks.

Located 20 minutes away by speedboat from Nha Trang, the reserve has an explosion of marine fauna and flora, thanks to the meeting of warm and cold currents.

It includes 340 coral species out of around 2,000 found worldwide. They are strictly protected, and divers have to pay VND40,000 (US$2).

Boats have to anchor at marked spots and follow fixed routes to avoid disturbing the fish too much.

Many tourists prefer to watch the fishermen work their rods, saying the tranquil setting gives them a feeling of total relaxation.

They can also buy fish fresh from fishermen.

But the latter mostly sell their catch to restaurants.

I experienced one such leisurely day on a beautiful morning.

There was a lot of sunshine and the water was very calm.

The fishermen went out in wooden boats, sailing slowly instead of anchoring, with their fishing rods out.

If visitors want to buy, they have to scream out to the fishermen, "Have anything to sell?"

One fisherman that day, Bao, had caught 10 flower crabs.

Locals said fishing at the reserve is not a particularly lucrative job. Luck is a decisive factor and the fishermen usually earn just enough for a living.

They catch three to four fish a day on average, and sell each at VND100,000 ($5).

Sometimes they catch fewer, even nothing at all.

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