Commisioned by RIA NOVOSTI, for the Summit G20.
I went to Vladivostok with the idea of photographing a fisher community in the city. On the first day I went to Slavyanka, a small town 2 hours from Vladivostok, to meet Sergei Kolesnik, an Ukranian fisherman that has been living and working there for more than 40 years. Here a personal connection: my ancestors come from Ukraine, from Kharkov, close to the city where Sergei was born.
Beyond these personal details, when I met Sergei I found a story I felt important to be told. He works in a fishing company that raises sea cucumber, a rare type of mollusks, and one of the most expensive seafood in the world. This species is very popular in China, where one pound can be sold in US$ 300. He works every day, more than 12 hours a day, and he is part of every stage of the process, from the construction of the buildings where the sea cucumber grows artificially, until the last step, fishing in open sea. This aquaculture process is very important for the whole world: it's the only way to protect and maintain some species that otherwise would disappear.
Sergei, 46 years old, was born in Ukraine and at age 5 he moved to Vladivostok. Between his 18 and 21, he served in the marine military service in Vladivostok, under the Soviet government. During Soviet times, Vladivostok remained closed for foreigners, and even Russian people needed special permission to visit the city. From that moment, the city has been always full of military presence and also under very influenced by the marine military. Sergei talks about those years as the most important years in his life, when he learned to do everything. He married his wife Rima 24 years ago, and they have a daughter, Angelica, now 23 years old. He divides his entire life between his job and his home.