Harvesting Swamp Fish in Domande

(Sept 2013) At the moment it is dry season across the whole Merauke area, there has been no rain for over a month and the sun beats down intensely in the daytime. On the other hand, the nights are cool. Most small streams in the forest are dry. The swamps have become no more than puddles and water levels have dropped so much in deep natural ponds that they only come up to the knees of adults.

Every day, the Malind people go to the forested swamplands to search for fish and hunt wild animals. In Domande village, throughout the last month or so, people have been collecting fish from the Duhibob swamp and pools near the village.

The villagers of Domande go out in groups to take the fish from the swamps using nets which they lay in a circle and then pull in between several people. The kinds of fish they catch are species of tilapia that weigh on average 1-2 kilograms. Around 50 large fish can be caught this way in a day. Meanwhile most of the fish they catch in the natural ponds are betok (climbing gourany) or gastor fish.

The tilapia, apart from being eaten at home , can also be sold to traders in the village that also own small shops and who buy fish on a skewer for between 10,000 to 13,000 Rupiah, depending on how big or small the fish are – most skewers will weigh over one kilogram. The shop owners bring the fish to Merauke city where they are sold to city traders from between 15,000 to 25,000 per skewer. The gastor fish are normally dried and salted, and a kilogram of dried fish can fetch 13,000 Rupiah.

Stepanus Kaize from Kampung Domande, claims that selling these swamp fish is a great boost to a family’s income. Aside from fishing in the swamp, people also catch fish and prawns from the sea in the appropriate season.

However, the people are worried that their fishing enterprise will yield less fish because of the impacts of PT. Cendrawasih Jaya Mandiri and PT. Karyabumi Papua, which are planning to use the land and swamps for a sugar-cane plantation and factory.

These two subsidiaries of the Rajawali group have already cleared forests around Iwakem, including water sources and the Yahunkihuhui and Ga’ul rivers, and mege pamaa, from which water flows into the Duhibob swamps. It is feared that the changes and loss of the forest will affect water circulation and the character of the local environment, bringing with it changes to plant and animal life, which in turn will reduce the income of people in Kampung Domande and surrounding areas.

Source: Pusaka http://pusaka.or.id/warga-domande-panen-ikan-rawa/

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