The film concerns the traditional "floating population" who fish Chinese coastal waters from family sized junks based in Hong Kong in competition with salaried fisherman using large, mechanized boats. The combined effect of education and an increased integration with shore life is putting strains on the old ways.
This is a "process film" in that it portrays the economic activities of three fishing families, each pursuing a different kind of fishing. Like the whole "Faces Of Change" series, it focuses on rural people using small-scale technology. Other fishing methods exist in the South China Sea-the large "long-liners" and deep-sea trawlers are big business operations with hired crews and constantly changing technology.
China Coast fishing styles around Hong Kong waters have changed greatly in the last decade. Most of the sailing junks have given way to junks with small inboard diesel engines. Of the nearly 5,800 registered boats in Hong Kong in 1973, less than 900 had sails of any kind and many of these had auxiliary engines.
The scale of fishing operations here is far larger than one might expect. The former British territory of Hong Kong has some 280 islands and encompasses 404 square miles of water. Fishing people often shelter in the bays of uninhabited islands and use the beaches to clean their boats. Many boats are double licensed and ply the waters of both Hong Kong and mainland China. The small family junk is found along the whole South China coast.
The film was made in 1973 on the Soko Islands in the South China Sea. The inhabitants are Cantonese who either fish from small family-owned junks or live ashore raising pineapples, vegetables, and pigs. The area is located three hours by junk from Hong Kong. The Soko Island inhabitants use both Canton and Hong Kong as market centers.
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