Saturday, November 14, 2020

Fishing nets during Covid

Fish to live
The first few months of the outbreak were the worst, food-wise, in the village.  Over three-quarters of the villagers' income was from tourism, which became nonexistent overnight.  They started to plant more crops to eat, but they would take months to grow.  One thing that we could do for more food was fish.  This is one benefit of living along the Amazon River!



While it is possible to fish with a hand line, it takes a lot of time and does not provide enough fish for a family.  Mostly the children fish by hand, which they truly enjoy.  But when they need to feed a family of eight or more, fishing nets are the answer!


At the start of the pandemic, we did not have enough nets to meet the increased food needs.  This is one area where we could easily, and quickly, make a difference.  Below are pictures that show the way nets are prepared and used.  

Preparing the net
The materials used were bought in the city of Tabatinga, Brazil.  In all, the cost was about $40 USD for one net.  The materials needed are: 150 of net, 150 feet of 1/8 inch cord, one pound of lead weights, 200 feet of heavy, black, nylon thread, and many small, empty, plastic bottles or small chunks of styrofoam.


To prepare a fishing net takes about three days of work.  It will make a net that is about 150 feet long.  Mainly adults and teenagers work to make a finished net.


First, the outer covering of the cord is removed.  This doubles the length of the cord.  The cord is then tied to the tops and bottom of the netting with the heavy thread.  This is the most tedious and time-consuming part of making the net.  The parents will usually teach their older children how to make the proper knots and spacing.  Lead weights are placed along the bottom of the net so that it will sink properly in the water.

Gabriel working on the net.  He was much faster and more
 accurate in his technique than I was.


A boring video of Ben preparing the net.


Fishing on the Amazon
Along the top of the net, at spaces between 10 feet, small plastic bottles, or chunks of styrofoam are secured.  These are not bought, they are saved or scavenged.  They then go onto the river in small wooden boats.  They may or may not have small, gasoline-powered motors.  Depending on the water level and the time of year, they may travel up to one-half hour to their fishing spot.  Then the net is lowered into the water.  After one hour or more in the water, the nets are pulled up, checked, and brought back to the village.



Bringing the catch home
When the fishers arriving at the village they are greeted by their family and friends.  They help to take the fish out of the net.  At times this is dangerous.  Piranha that has been caught in the net, while they are eaten, can also cause a serious bite to the fisher!



After sorting, the fish are ready to take home.  When a catch is very good, they will give some to their friends or neighbors, or sell them to others in their village or neighboring villages.




The best part
At home, the fish may be salted to eat at a later time.  More frequently it is fried in a pan with oil, grilled over an open fire, or cooked into a stew.  The villages eat fish for up to three meals a day!



At last, the fried fish and bread are ready to eat.  Delicious!



Please enjoy this video of the catch arriving and fish being cleaned.  Thank you for the video, Stephan!





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