When the Chinese came to Kerala (they were crazy about the region’s cashew nuts) they shared a fascinating technology: the mechanized fishing net: Lining the shores of Kochi, large spider-like timber structures claw at the ocean. In a clever feat of pre-industrial engineering, the system consists of a large balanced scale: one end extends finger-like appendages to secure the net in a sort of cat’s cradle, the other end counterbalanced with a tangle of hanging rocks. It takes about 6 men to operate the contraption- either walking out toward the net to dip it into the ocean, or pulling the ropes on the opposite side to induce momentum and lift the net out of the water.
Admittedly, there are far more efficient (and arguably destructive) methods nowadays, and when I observed the catch of the hour, it consisted of about six squiggly minnows. Apparently the ocean has a dry season as well, and the fishermen were waiting for the monsoons to restock the inlets. In the meantime, they had plenty of gawking tourists to fish for.