The small scale fishermen community in Songkhla coastline, Thailand

The year is 2561. It is the 21st of August of 2561. Two months away from the monsoon season. When November comes and until January there will be less fishing. But for now, they go fishing. They fish with nets and traps. They catch crabs, mackerel, and octopus.

Crabs and fish come in the nets. Octupus come in traps made of glass bottles.

from top left to right: 1) woman shows a recently caught crab; 2) fishing nets; fishermen inspects the fish catch; octupus in the trap made of glass bottle.

Every other day 884 fishing boats go out in the Gulf of Thailand. The smaller boats go out 3 Km from the coast. They go to check their crab nets, their octopus traps, their catch. The crab nets stay 3 days fishing in the water, every net catches 100 crabs. The octupus traps stay 2 nights. This they told us. The boats don’t need to be big — around 3 to 4 meters, nor the engine is too powerful — this we observed.

Crab and octopus fishing vessels. From left to right: 1) crab boat being pulled to the beach with the catch of the day; 2) detail of engine; 3) fishing boat with nets.

Fishing for fish

Fishermen arrive to the beach after over 9 hours at sea fishing with fishing nets in the Gulf of Thailand. Notice that this fishing vessel is bigger than the vessels used in the crab and octopus fisheries.

It was early. Too early for the sun to shine, but the right time for the moon to brighten the night sky. It was 2 am of the 21st of August 2018 — that is 2561 in the Thai calendar. They went fishing 40 Km away from the coast. They went fishing for fish, with fishing nets, in a bigger vessel than those used in the crab and octopus fisheries. It took them 3 hours to get to the fishing spot. Thirty minutes to place the nets, thirty minutes fishing, thirty minutes to haul the nets — so they said. Then 3 hours to get back to the beach — this they told us.

The sun was already high, too high — it was 11: 33 when they arrived to the beach. They inspect the catch…

100 Baht/Kg of octopus
130 Baht/Kg of mackerel
300 Baht/Kg of crab

The biologists inspect the catch

€2.65 /Kg of octopus
€3.45/Kg of mackerel
€7.96/Kg of crab
Now the monsoon season is starting. It is 12:30 and the woman goes selling the catch in the local community. The fishermen invite us for lunch — crab and mackerel.
Outside the monsoon season they will go fishing most days , the catch will be sold in the local market, just 1 km away. But when the monsoon comes, the waves will be too big. They will fish plastic bottles instead.
7 Baht/kg plastic bottle

€0.19/kg plastic bottle

50 Baht/day

€1.32/kg plastic bottle

Fish, octopus and crab are still more valuable and in more quantity than plastic, but maybe not for long… I reflected about this while eating the crabs and the fish with rice; the fishermen talk. Food is a big deal in Thailand. While we eat one of the fishermen's says in a smile:

earlier we released the baby crabs, but now we can eat their parents…

He was referring to the crab re-stock program and the artificial reef they are promoting in the coast. This will be the theme of our next story.

You are reading a short series of factual stories about aquaculture and fisheries in Thailandthis is the first story of this series. The previous serious — from water to table was about the seafood production system. I use storytelling to facilitate conversations about aquaculture, fisheries, and all the other industries along the way. If you are an educator you can use this site in blended learning — see below learning objectives, suggested activities and further reading.

You can contact me through LinkedIn.

NEXT STORY: Larvae in, crab out? A story about crab restocking

Learning objectives

  1. To describe in general terms the local fisheries in the Songkla coastal area
  2. To be aware of different fishing gear
  3. To discuss small scale fisheries
  4. Discuss the following statement: more plastic than fish by 2050 (you can read more here)

Suggested Activities

  1. Ask the students to discuss fishing effort and what extra info they would need to calculate it using this text (more info here)
  2. Discuss what key information is needed to monitor this fisheries
  3. Discuss the key challenges of monitoring small scale fisheries
  4. Identify some of the fishing species based on the pictures below and make a short ID fact sheet for each one of them
Today’s catch from The Gulf of Thailand — small scale fisheries
Pictures and videos by Dr Sara Barrento taken on the 21/08/2561 a big thank you goes to the fishing community

NEXT STORY: Larvae in crab out? A story about crab restocking