Translated by WINNIE CHOOI
Sin Chew Daily
PASIR PENAMBANG -- Walking towards the fishing village of Pasir Penambang, Kuala Selangor, the lifestyle of villagers can be seen clearly.
They are mostly dependent on drying prawn crackers and harvesting clams from the sea for a living. Some local shops are also seen selling traditional home-made fish balls while some seafood wholesalers would travel to nearby ports to collect the fresh fishing harvests and then deliver them to morning market, night market, stalls or seafood restaurants around the tiny town.
However, fishing business is very much dependent on the weather. Fishermen have no choice but to pray to the God for a good harvest.
Thanks to the kind arrangements by Su Yong Yuan, the village chief cum second generation proprietor of clam business, Sin Chew Daily was able to meet a few local fishermen and get hands-on experience of local fishermen's life while witnessing the skills of clam harvesting.
Admiring the flying eagle
A fisherman would normally switch off the motor while cruising across the mangrove swamp and throws into the sea a handful of tiny fishes earlier wrapped with wet newspaper.
Hawks are seen circling in the sky above seeing the ripples created. The fisherman feels that the hawks might not be interested in dead fish because they are getting choosy these days with the fishermen throwing internal organs of pig into the sea to attract them and then collecting fees from curious tourists.
A lot of tourists have been lured by the hawk sighting activity at Pasir Penambang, and local fishermen would charge tourists for boating them around to watch the spectacular event.
50-year-old seafood wholesaler Lin Lian Ting told Sin Chew Daily, "I was born at Pasir Penambang and have been a seafood wholesaler for almost 21 year now.
"I travel to every port to collect the fishing harvests and wholesale them to seafood restaurants or distribute to small markets or stalls around the town and sometimes as far as Klang.
"Pasir Penambang does not have any trawler but only small fishing boats. These boats could only do shallow water fishing and the harvests are basically prawns. Fishes like ma you, promfret or kurau are also found in abundance but their prices fluctuate."
Sungai Yu village chief Su Yong Yuan said during the interview, "I am running a family clam business about one or two nautical miles away from the Pasir Penambang pier. There are only about two or three such businesses today, and this industry is dwindling mainly because of environment and weather changes which have affected our livelihood.
"If there are no places with ebb tide, clams would not be able to survive as the soil would be contaminated by bacterial infection. We hardly get 50 packs (5 tonnes) of clams nowadays compared to last time, when we used to get 500 to 600 packs (nearly 100 tonnes)."
Manufacturer of shrimp crackers, 43-year-old Lin Lian Hua, told Sin Chew Daily, "When Chinese New Year is near, we will be getting busier due to high demands of shrimp crackers.
"My workers will clean and wash the shrimps thoroughly by peeling off the shells and then keep them in the fridge.
"When the shrimp cake becomes hard the following day, we will grind it into pieces using the machine, and then cut into slices to be dried under the sun for about two days.
"Currently we have two machines costing around RM7,000 each. Production of shrimp crackers depends very much on the availability of raw stock and we could produce about 60kg a day."
Owner of marine product business, 41-year-old-Luo Jian Yi, said, "I'm running a family business of traditional home-made fish balls. We are one of the two remaining families engaging in this business here today.
"We are using genuine ikan parang (smooth wolf herring) for our fish balls, unlike others using the eel fish. The fish ball production is very simple, just store the fresh meat in the fridge until frozen and then fine grinding it using the machine.
"Our fish balls are quite popular among local and oversea tourists. We can produce about 2,000 fish balls and up to 5,000 in the weekends."