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Claudette Fleming
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A small-scale traditional sustainable way to fish

Posted by Claudette Fleming about 12 years ago

Indigenous peoples have employed various sustainable ways of obtaining food. Using a fish trap is just one of them.

The Kingfisher and indigenous people methods of fishing have one commonality - they are sustainable. No fish is wasted and there is always fish for tomorrow.

Traditional lowland indigenous peoples of South America most often fish daily and tend to fish only for the family and maybe other vulnerable members of the community e.g. the elderly. Sometimes fish is preserved for future use, but fresh fish is always preferred. An advantage of daily fishing is that the catch is at its freshest. One important sustainable way to fish is to use a cell-type fish trap.

Fish Traps

Fish Traps have been used for many, many moons now and are still used today.

A trap is usually set in nearby water within walking or paddling distance from the home and is normally checked for fish on a daily basis.

Depending on the area, traps can be of different designs. One type of trap used in shallow water is made of cane and the lure to the trap is termite or wood-ants. Where there is a rise and fall of the tide, a water pen made of palm, with roasted corn as the lure can be used.

A flooded plain trap in use

This trap is set in shallow water and is woven like a basket with openings (see image below), big enough for small fish to escape. The bait which is the live termite nest is placed in the basket. A weight is also put in to prevent the trap from floating away and to keep the opening below the water. The mouth of the trap is wide, so fish can swim in. A thick covering of water weeds is placed on top so as to disguise the trap and to encourage fish to enter.

The wait begins until it is time to check the trap for fish.


The trap only shuts in fish of a certain size

Fish is always alive

Smaller, growing fish can escape

Fish can swim out of the trap or remain in shallow water and
will not die if not taken out.

Bait is organic and comes from the surroundings

The trap is biodegradable

No economic cost

Time that might be spent line fishing can be spent on other

Some traps can be multi-purpose



Other prey can enter or destroy the trap

Traps have to be specific to the water area

Only fish of certain species are attracted to the lure

The trap only traps fish of a certain size


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