“Seven Stars Fishery”
of Kampung Sungai Lima
The main industry in the village is catching small shrimps using “Seven Stars” net (thus called “Seven Stars Fishery”) and process them into dried shrimps. Secondary industries are belacan paste (shrimp paste) production and boat building industry. Besides shrimps, the “seven stars” nets also catch jellyfish.
During the early days of their settlement, the villagers of Sungai Lima used cages to catch shrimps. Due to limited scale of the catches using these cages, the villagers changed their catching method to using net and wooden piles. This has become the predecessor of the current “seven stars fishery”.
Onset of “Sevem Stars Fishery”:
At the early ages, shrimp catching is a “one-man” practice. The fisherman first inserted the wooden piles into the seabed. A net is then hung between two adjacent wooden piles. Seven f loating bamboos( hence “seven star”) were tied on the top edge and stones tied to the bottom edge of the net opening to ensure it is wide enough to let in the shrimps and other marine animals carried in by the current.
Tidal Currents Nets:
There are two high and two low tides in 24 hours. During ebb tide, water level falls until it reaches low tide. Then, the tide changes to the opposite direction, which is called flood tide, where the water level rises until it reaches high tide. Between flood and ebb tides are slack water periods (little or no horizontal movement). It is during these slack water periods that the fishermen go to their nets to collect their catches.
“Mother and Son” Boats (“子母船” )
Sungai Lima is the only fishing village in Malaysia that still uses “Mother and Son” boat system. This boat system was originated locally based on the lodging needs arisen when the fishermen started to go further out in the sea to catch shrimps. According to the locals, Sungai Lima is the only village in Malaysia where “Mother and Son” boat system is still in use.
The boat that the fisherman used at the beginning of the Seven Stars Fishery was a small wooden boat and he had to row to each net to collect the catch. Therefore, the fisherman can only catch in areas nearby. Due to the slow speed of a manually rowed boat, he can only collect from 5-6 nets during each slack water period.
As population grows, some fishermen started to travel further into the Malacca Straits using sailboats. Sailboats are much bigger so each boat can take 2-4 fishermen on board. The sailboat will drag the small wooden boat out to sea during ebb tide (following the tidal current flowing seaward) and return during flood tide (following the tidal current towards the land).
In 1950s, engine was introduced to the village. Small boats were installed with engines and were used to drag the big boats that had none. The big boat is mainly used for resting, eating, and cooking shrimps (first step of dried shrimp processing) whereas the small boat is mainly used to collect the catch. This big and small boat pair is the precursor of what we see today — “mother and son” boats.
Traditional Fishing Method
They use two boats “子母船” (“mother & son boat” — a small and a big boats) that work as a pair and a netting system that uses mangrove trunks as stationary poles to hold the fishing nets in place. The main catch using this technique is small shrimps.