Tangkal means cage in the Cebuano dialect.
That’s what these fishpens are:
Tangkals house three or four fishermen.
They spend the evening on a perch like this:
When I visited Double-Island last March, I went out of my way to see how they harvested their fish.
Rod, the caretaker at Double-Island, and I woke up at 4 a.m. to join them. We tied our small banca to the bamboo scaffolding and tiptoed our way to the perch above.
There were four fishermen and each one of them took a corner. Each one turned a make-shift winch (made also of bamboo) and after many minutes of turning, the net rose. Inside were hundreds of tiny silver fish. Less than 10 years ago, they used to haul thousands, not hundreds, of fish, Rod told me.
I tried but could not take a photo of their catch. It was simply too dark and the flash was too glaring. Besides, earlier, I had nearly fallen into the water!
At around 6 a.m., other fishermen started walking back to shore. This group worked another Tangkal.
They didn’t catch much either–less than 15 kilos.
There were about 10 Tangkals that night around Double-Island. About 10 years ago, Rod said, as many as 50 Tangkals crowded the same area. That’s a bad sign. The sea’s running out.