Miho Hajtilovic has never entertained the thought of leaving his hometown.
The fisherman stands in the small hatch of his boat, tiller in one hand, cigarette in the other, looking a good deal younger than his 83 years. He started fishing when he was five; since then, he has absolved his rounds in Dubrovnik’s waters on an almost daily basis. The city used to have 40 professional fishermen; now Hajtilovic is one of the last of his kind. “Fishermen are going extinct, it’s a tough job,” says the old man without any bitterness. Hajtilovic named his modest vessel after his grandson: “Mali Ivan”, or “Little Ivan”. Ivan is 35 now – the same age as the boat – and has promised his grandfather to continue the fishing business, even though it’s hardly worth it anymore. “The nets used to be mostly full, my grandfather filled them 70 to 80 percent on his trips,” relates Ivan, “these days they’re only 30 percent full.” The waters have been overfished, and noise from cruise ships, jet skis and ferries has driven away marine life. But the old fisherman knows a few choice places where he can still use his “Parangal”, or longline, to extract a prime specimen or two from the crystal-clear waters.
Miho Hajtilovic started fishing when he was five years old. Today, at 83, he still takes his boat out on a regular basis.