Article by Arif Zainal (Brunei Darussalam)
Blog Correspondent of ASEAN-Korea Centre
Freshwater fishing was a daily routine of Bruneians since the old days. During those times, a lot of families’ lives near to rivers and streams as most of them are farmers. Living near to water not only gives abundance of fishes but also water supply for drinking and cooking. It is also a mean of travel by boat.
Since prehistoric times, fishing has been a man’s source of catching food. There are a quite wide range of equipment to catch seafood such as trap, tackles and nets. They are simple yet affective and used to catch specific type of seafood. It is also used according to the place it is set such as in the rivers, seas, streams and lakes.
In the old days, they invented many fishing equipments. They made Sangkap (a type of spear), Rambat (a casting net), Sauk (a long-handled net), Bintur (a trap for crabs), Rawai (a line with baited hooks) and Bubu (fish trap).
Bubu is a fish trap made of bamboo, with rattan rings as frames. It is shaped like a barrel at one end and as it goes to the other end, it resembles a cone. The mouth of the Bubu is fitted with a separate funnel for fishes to enter through in one direction.
To make a Bubu, the bamboo stalks are split into two and made into a flat stick. The length of the stalk depends on the size of the Bubu. The rattan rings are used to hold the bamboo sticks together. The rattan rings are put at the start and a few centimetres apart with the next one until all is tied to become a cone shaped Bubu. At the end of the cone-shaped Bubu, it is either woven with rattan rings or tied up with a coconut shell. A skilful worker can make the Bubu in just three days.
Bubu is a very cunning equipment. It is designed to be without attendance. Hence, a number of Bubu can be set at the same time over a large area. The best part is the Bubu can be set up near banks without using any boat. However, it is usually fixed to a post when set in fast moving water.
Another type Bubu looks cylindrical with a flat end instead of cone shaped. The problem is this type is quite hard to make and that’s why it is rare to see one. One more type of Bubu is made to catch giant prawns. This type of Bubu is made of a certain tree bark where prawns are known to have affinity for. To lure prawns into the Bubu, coconut shell flesh is used as bait.
With the Bubu, we can catch a lot of varieties of fish where most are local delicacies. Some of those fishes are Keli, Dalak, Karuk, Sepat, and Banya. Other than being food, some of these fishes are regarded as having medicinal values.
In the modern world, the use of Bubu is declining due to the popularity of offshore-fishing and availability of ready-made modern fishing equipment. As time passes by, the making and the setting of Bubu becomes a part of the old tradition. However, Bubu is turning into an art object; hence it is made as a decoration at home.