On my recent trip to the Philippines, it was fascinating to photograph the fish port in General Santos, Mindanao. Some of the best quality tuna and fish from the Pacific Ocean was on sale at the harbor.
It's best to watch the fish port come alive at daybreak when it stirs to life with the latest catch delivered.
All the fishing boats dock and unload their catch. There the fish will be weighed, checked for quality, and sold to the highest bidder.
On the day I was at the port, the fishermen were bringing in tuna and marlin for sale.
For the marlin, the fishermen hacked their heads off before taking them off the boat.
Once all the fish was brought to the port, the buyers lined up to view the catch.
The buyers had a tool which they could insert into the fish and pull out a sliver of the tuna meat. From this piece, they would know the quality of the meat in the fish. Each fish was graded by quality before the bidding began.
Several buyers would try and outbid each other for the highest quality fish.
When the bidding was over, a worker in the fish market would carry the fish to be weighed.
Weighing the fish was the job of this man.
Everywhere there was blood in the fish market, which meant all the workers and visitors had to wear white plastic boots to keep the port sanitary (and your shoes from being ruined!).
Some of the fish were so large it would take several fish market workers to carry the fish to the scales.
It was back breaking work. The biggest fish weighed that day was around 72 kilos (160 pounds).
World champion boxer Manny Pacquiao started out working in the fish markets of GenSan years ago.
The port continued to hum with activity as the sun rose higher in the sky. Fish buyers accumulated more fish...
...while more fish were brought from the boats and sold.
The highest quality fish would be immediately wrapped in cardboard and tape and put on ice and shipped to Japan.
After the large fish sold, the fishermen would bring out the smaller fish.
The smaller fish were for domestic consumption.
...the fish would be tagged and marked for the quality of the meat before being shipped to local stores and restaurants.
If you ever make it to Mindanao and have the chance, check out the General Santos Fish Port. The port is open to visitors and tourists free of charge (you can rent the plastic boots from the fish port itself). It is an experience you will never forget.