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Lights, fish!

Fishermen use a fire to attract fish on a traditional "sulphuric fire-fishing" boat in Taiwan earlier this month.

Under the cover of darkness, a small group of Taiwanese fishermen set sail off the north-east coast, light a fire on the end of a bamboo stick using chemicals and wait for the fish to come.

As if on cue, hundreds of sardines leap out of the water towards the bright light waved by one fisherman, as the other fishermen haul in the catch with their nets.

There used to be 300 boats using the traditional fire-fishing method but now there are only three, according to the fishermen's association in Jinshan district, north of Taipei, reported Reuters.

The fishermen have a seasonal window from May to July where they can catch sardines using fire, a practice that dates back hundreds of years, the association says.

The method of lighting the fire has been updated to include the use of calcium carbide. However, the boats are old, with little to ease the physical toll on the fishermen, who average around 60 years old.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2016, with the headline 'Lights, fish!'. Print Edition | Subscribe