The sun sets over the northern shores

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For a South African the short winter days on the icy northern shores of the Baltic are not an obvious attraction. But I’m a photographer and documentary film maker and I soon discover that there is magic not just in the light and the wild interplay between the elements but also in the structures and culture that rugged coastal communities have created.

One of the most authentic and attractive of the coastal settlements I have visited is Kuggören, home to coastal fisherman Lars Erik Åslund and his delightful wife, Anja. I have had the good fortune to film and converse with this energetic and enterprising couple and to accompany Lars Erik on his coastal fishing boat. 

Tradition is strong, catches are small. Politics have not favoured these small scale artisanal fishing families.

Competition from the big industrial trawlers has devastated fish stocks. Long hard days at sea no longer generate an income that is attractive to a new generation of coastal fishermen. Lars Erik, like so many others, will in all likelihood be the last one to pursue this occupation which has sustained his family for many generations.

We are seeing the sun set not just over an industry but over an entire culture.

The views expressed in this text are solely those of the writer.

Text: Simon Stanford
Photo: Simon Stanford, Alexandre Gobatti Ramos

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