Photo caption: Local fisherman got back from the sea and cleaning the trawl net.
By Hamka Rosli
MARANG, 14 November 2015: Villagers in Terengganu are mostly fishermen. For those in Marang particularly, it has been a tradition to depend on the sea for their living. We can easily tell by just looking at the houses where they live which are located by the seaside.
It is not an easy job to be a fisherman as he actually has to risk his life going to sea to catch fish. Those who do not have the experience may not know the difficulties faced by fishermen. To really understand their situation, we must put ourselves in their shoes, for working as a fisherman is not as simple as going to the sea and catch fish, but there’s more than that.
Every citizen has experienced some forms of difficulties in making a living. As fishermen their work is very challenging. Their working hours start as early as before dawn. They need to go to the sea by 4 a.m and be back on land at around 2 p.m with their catch.
As fishermen there is no such thing as holiday for them as their income depends on the catch.
“If we do not go to the sea, we do not have income for a day. So our job is on a daily basis,” said a local fisherman, 70. He said during monsoon season, less number of fishermen go to the sea because it is rather dangerous.
The village head, Ibrahim Adam, said: “We are in monsoon season now, so most of the fishermen do not go to the sea.”
There have been cases of missing fishermen due to bad weather, he said. So, their schedule to be at sea is very much determined by the weather.
These days the condition of fishermen is very different from before in terms of their tools and equipment for fishing and also the price for their catch.
Most of them now are using more advance boats, the fibre boats which are less heavy and easy to handle. However, there are still some fishermen who prefer to use traditional boats made from woods. The fishermen are using trawl net, a strong fishing net for dragging along the sea bottom hauled by machine.
That is the standard tools used by all fishermen to catch fish today. The price is different from past years. Back then in 1990’s, the price is as low as 3 ringgit per kg, but now the price is as much as 25 ringgit per kg.
The price increase is due to shortage of fish that can be caught per day. If we were to compare the equipment or tools used by fishermen with their counterparts from advance countries like Japan or western countries, the ones used by the local fishermen are still very modest. Nevertheless, they still have an important job to supply the local community with fresh fish.
The fish hauled by the fishermen are the black river fish and mackerel, or famously known among the local people as ikan kembung. Besides fish, other catch includes crab, shrimp and cuttlefish.
Before the catch is sold to the middlemen, fishermen need to separate the fish according to grade which depends on the size and the condition of the catch. This grading process needs to be done quickly as the fish need to be taken to the market.
Because it has been a routine task for the fishermen, they do not see the job as troublesome or hard. In fact, they enjoy their work as fishermen.
Most of the fishermen in Marang are registered with fishermen’s association where this body takes care of their welfare. It shows that their lives and well-beings are being taken care of by the authorities as they do a heavy task for the community.***