The Nelayan are traditional Indonesian fishermen, fishing on small boats to catch sardine-like fish called Lemuru, Petek or the larger Red Snapper. The fishermen have been forced to live with smaller catches, caused by rising plastic levels in the nets, the ocean and on the beaches.

As the nets get full of plastic, the fish stay away, so they bring in a smaller catch and less money. Smaller catches mean a leaner summer and even leaner winter. Many of the Nelayan I spoke to here say it’s locals causing the plastic and rubbish on the beaches, and there is only a small local dump with no waste collection. People find it easier to throw their rubbish out into the rivers and onto the beach. Even when some locals try and clean it, it is bad again the next day, some I spoke to says it causes them to cry at night.

The larger boats can travel more than 100km to reach fish stocks, and these distances are growing every year as fish stocks reduce, the smaller boats will only travel out a few kilometres as their smaller nets are catching smaller fish. As the nets get full of plastic the fish stay away, so they bring in a smaller catch and less money, smaller catches mean leaner summers and even slimmer winters.

Fishing was a dangerous job before the problems caused by the rising levels of plastic, and they would often work incredibly long hours, sleeping on the larger boats with no shade or protection from the elements. In strong seas, men are often washed overboard and with no protective equipment they sadly often vanish, the group of fishermen I spoke to in Blimbing and Brondong said they had lost 43 people in 8 years. The government was aware of the dangers of the job and had provided life jackets, but they made it hard to work, so they are not worn.

The risks were always substantial, and many saw it as worth it when it was lucrative, but the plastic is causing so many issues that many wonder whether it is worth the risk.

For more personal work please click here.

Tom Barnes  <strong>Yono</strong> -  sits on a huge pile of rope in the harbour in Lamongan regency. One of the largest pollutants in the area id broken discarded rope that the fishermen no longer want.
Tom Barnes  <strong>Permadi stands on ‘new coastline’ that has been created by washed up nets, ropes and plastic. When Permadi moved onto it and stood there were thousands of bugs that swarmed his feet then vanished.</strong>
Tom Barnes  <strong>Ali is a local fishermen from Lamongan regency, stood here surrounded by discarded rope and rubbish.</strong>
Tom Barnes  <strong>Darkam holds up matted rope, nets and rubbish.</strong>
Tom Barnes  <strong>Basrawi stands by his boat just before heading out for the second time in a day</strong>
Tom Barnes  <strong>Imron stands on the side of a local river full of rubbish, this river is known as a dead river as it is so full of rubbish. There are no local waste collections so locals their waste straight into the river.</strong>
Tom Barnes  <strong>Hayati dries fish scales on the side of the local rubbish filled river. The fish scales are bought from the local fishermen, dried and sold to a large company to be turned into animal food.</strong>
Tom Barnes  <strong>Harip stands on the beach he fishes from – surrounded by washed up rubbish. The locals have triedmultiple times to clear it but each tide brings more and more rubbish.</strong>
Tom Barnes  <strong>The plastic hangs off the ropes of Effendis boat as the tide leaves it’s fresh waste deposit.</strong>
Tom Barnes  <strong>Mainmunah is a local who despairs at the state of the beach, surrounded by rubbish  . Local waste facilites are limited and there are few collections meaning a lot of locals just throw their rubbish straight onto the beach or have small fires to try and g</strong>
Tom Barnes  <strong>Aziz scrapes limpets off the support on his boat at low tide. The lower water level gives the fishermen a break but also reveals the true level of rubbish on the beach.</strong>
Tom Barnes  <strong>Harip repairs his boat with glass fibre by hand.</strong>