A dream island is under threat and the traditional way of life is fading.
Lipe Island, a beautiful small island in the southern Andaman Sea, has abundant natural marine resources that contribute to a rich food supply for fish. The Urak Lawoi, the sea gypsies, a Malay indigenous people residing on the islands with their own cultural identity, live and fish according to ancient methods. They use the sea as their main source of income and livelihood. They have a deep connection with and dependence on the sea, but their way of life is threatened by large-scale fishing and the fast-growing tourism businesses.
The Urak Lawoi fish in the traditional way with bare hands and only a fishing line, but trawling by large fishing boats sweep away most of the usable fish, making it difficult for the locals to catch fish. Investors have spent a lot of money to promote the economy to meet the needs of the increasing number of tourists each year. Construction and tourism bring with them large amounts of garbage that polluted the island.
Many islanders have had their lives changed by working as tour guides and other alternative jobs related to tourism and they struggle to absorb this new culture which brings tourists from all over the world. Urban sprawl has caused many islanders to lose their ancestral homes and abandon their own cultural identity. It is expected that the old and simple way of life can be expected to disappear within a few generations.
Photographed in 2013-2014