Funae Fishing Skipjack Tuna

23 October 2009

This day was a walk down memory lane. Eight years ago, when we were finalizing our shoot for our book Sulu Sulawesi Seas for WWF, we spent five midnights to mornings with the funae fishermen of Bunaken Island.

Their hard work started when they bought live anchovies in Tanawango in mainland Manado at midnight. When there were no anchovies to buy, they would catch their own live bait. The funae boat has a huge aquarium inside the boat’s main belly to keep the live bait. Later on this belly would be the holding area for their day’s catch.

Ikan dili or anchovies will be thrown into the water boiling with tuna activity

Then, before sunrise, they would steam two to three hours to a rakit – a 2 x 2 meter floating pontoon manned by one person, which is a fish attracting devise or FAD, 40 to 60 kilometers away from the mainland in the open ocean. Some rakit would be farther still, you could hardly see Manado Tua on the horizon!

Anchored 1.5 kilometers to the ocean floor, this Rakit has a lonely operator with nothing but deep blue and a radio to keep him company


Out at sea with nothing but the lamps light to illuminate the water, skipjacks gather around the palm fronds at 16 meters.

Quite freaky to dive the abyss. Lucky us the current was not pumping!

And before sunrise, the funae fishermen will be hard at work fishing!

Not quite sunrise, these fishermen are on their way to another fishing ground

Funae fishermen in full action after finding skipjack tuna neaar Manado Tua

Care for a fresh tuna straight from the hook? Where's our wasabe and kikoman when we need it?

When all the bait is gone, the funae fishermen stop fishing and get their fish ready for selling to buyers from Manado auction market

About the Author:

Stella was born in Manila, Philippines in 1965. She studied anthropology but ended up in advertising, producing radio and TV commercials for 7 years. After quitting advertising, she ventured into the freelance world in Manila producing video documentaries for a publishing house, government agencies, non govenmental organisations, and the academe. She moved on to producing books and had a stint at working with foreign production companies visiting Manila. Stella, now based in Cairns, produces photo stories with her husband Jürgen Freund.