Story from the Field: Pole and Line Fishing Trip in Karas Sea, Fak Fak Regency, West Papua Province

1 Jan 2017

Inayah, our Sorong Site Supervisor, joined a Pole & Line fishing trip (87 GT capacity) to observe the fishing activity and specifically to delve deeper into bait use. Here is her story…

The trip started from port in Sorong and we headed to the Karas Sea. The first destination was to a bagang location to collect baitfish. A bagang is a lift-net fishing vessel specifically targeting small baitfish. It took 24 hours to reach the bagang and we stopped at many bagang to buy baitfish. 150 baskets of baitfish (anchovies, sprats, sardines and chub mackerel) were bought and transferred to the vessel’s palka (hold). There are four holds available in the vessel with a total capacity of 250 baskets of baitfish. Next was a five hour trip to the fishing ground where the rumpon (Fish Aggregating Devices, FAD) is located.

Pole & Line (P&L) is an environmentally friendly way of traditional fishing by using about a bamboo stick ~1.5m long, nylon rope and a hook. Fishermen on a P&L vessel can be divided into four roles. The first are those who sit on the bow of the ship to fish using a fishing rod, usually up to 10 fishermen. The second one is boy-boy, who is in charge of throwing live bait into the sea to attract the target fish, a process known as ‘chumming’. The third one is manoma who is in charge of transporting baitfish from the hold using the net to the boy-boy. The fourth one is the captain who is in charge of directing the fishermen.

Once we reached the FAD location, the fishermen went to the vessel’s bow and started fishing and I observed their fishing technique. To satisfy my curiosity, I tried to fish as well! I tried fishing from all sides of the bow, from the right, left and front side. Based on my experience, fishing on the right and left side is better because the distance between the fishing position and the sea surface is close enough so that when the fish is caught, the energy required to lift it is not as high as when the fishing position is on the bow of the vessel. But the left and right side of the vessel is more exposed to the hooks of other fishermen when they are throwing caught fishes to the vessel. The fishing activity on a FAD takes approximately one hour and many FADs can be visited during a single trip until the baitfish runs out.

When there was no baitfish left, we went to a bagang to take a rest and to buy baitfish again to perform the next fishing activities. This process of bait-buying and FAD fishing can be repeated six times, depending on the ice and fuel supplies, before the vessel finally returned to port  at Sorong.

The fish caught during this trip were Auxis thazard thazard (Frigate tuna) or commonly referred to ikan komo by local communities; Katsuwonus pelamis (Skipjack tuna) and Thunnus albacares (Yellowfin tuna).

About the baitfish…

  1. Baitfish is usually caught at night, local people used to call it batahan umpan. Batahan umpan is done by using the light that radiated into the sea in order to gather the bait in one place in the lamp light, thus helping the process of catching bait. The batahan umpan process is from half an hour to two or three hours.
  2. Caught baitfish will be stored in karamba

  3. Baitfish will be transferred to the boat
  4. Baitfish is located in vessel’s hold contains water and equipped with bamboo-based aerator. Each vessel has 4 holds specifically for baitfish, with maximum capacity of 250 basket; each basket contains 3 kg baitfish

Writer: Inayah

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