Hugo Padinha, the young fisherman from Culatra who follows the family tradition

His work is divided between sea and land

“I’m a proud fisherman!” says Hugo Padinha Martins, one of the youngest fishermen on Culatra Island. Proudly rooted in his family's fishing tradition, Hugo, aged 29, is the youngest fisherman in Culatra to work on his own.

Natural of Faro, but has always lived on the island, Hugo began his journey at sea a decade ago, aged 19. The fisherman talks about the influence of the family that took him into the world of fishing. “In my family, they are all fishermen and so it has always been a dream to fulfill the legacy, a goal that I set for myself to be a fisherman”. Since he was a child, he always went to help his father, he recalls.



Before taking to the waters and becoming a fisherman, Hugo studied and completed the 12th year of schooling. However, continuing his studies was not in his plans: “I never really liked school and, therefore, I preferred fishing, I preferred working”.

He chose to work, earn his money and start a family. Initially, he collaborated in a company, together with other fishermen. Soon, he went his own way and started working for himself, like most of his family.

Your working day, from dawn to dusk, is a cycle that repeats itself countless times. Drop the net into the sea and return to pick it up the next day. A process that seems easy to most, but only with experience gained over the years can success be achieved.



The routine also includes long hours of work on land, repairing nets and choosing the right fish for consumption, for example.

The sale of fish all takes place at the auction, a crucial stage in the process that defines the success of the day's work.

However, recent conflicts and wars in other parts of the planet have directly impacted the price of fuel, an essential daily expense. This immediately affects the possible profit of fishermen. “It’s a bit of a high price for the gasoline we’re paying, without support”, he laments.

Due to these adversities, this year the fisherman decided to start, in parallel, a business with oysters, also on his own.



Despite the challenges, Hugo maintains a firm perspective on his future in fishing: “Forever, it’s my job. I do other things, I have oysters too, but the main focus is fishing, that's what I like to do. Fishing is my main objective.”

However, he expresses concern about the future of the profession. Young people's lack of interest in fishing and the challenges inherent to working at sea lead Hugo to believe that the tradition is at risk of extinction.

“Here on the island, I’m the youngest fisherman, working alone. It's a lot of work and the young people like having dry feet, and, in winter, being in the warmth of the air conditioning more than being at sea in the rain and wind”.

In addition to all the professional challenges, Hugo reports a broader concern: the environmental impact of his activity. The fisherman points to the need for changes in the mentality, not only of younger people, but also of older people who persist in old and polluting habits.

“We have to do our best. We are here just passing through, but more people will come following us and they will also need this”.



Text and photos by Pedro Alves, carried out as part of the 22|24 Professional Photography course at ETIC_Algarve, School of Technologies, Innovation and Creation of the Algarve.


Read some more!
A strong region needs a strong press and, these days, the press depends on its readers. We make all Sul Infomação content available free of charge, because we believe that it is not through barriers that the public approaches responsible and quality journalism. Therefore, your contribution is essential.  
Contribute here!