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Gerikat beach in Sarawak best for jellyfish fishing

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Gerikat beach in Sarawak best for jellyfish fishing

Post Number:#1  Postby timyang » Tue Dec 28, 2010 4:11 pm

While most beaches are beautiful and clean in Sarawak, Gerikat beach in Sarikei is one that would not lure people to take a dip, due to the presence of jellyfish in the nearby waters.

Although the beach is not suitable for swimming, people are still seen hanging out at the area for camping, collecting sea shells and the opportunity to go jellyfish fishing.

Gerikat, an hour boat ride from Sarikei, is a popular site for jelly fishing. Despite not being promoted as a tourist attraction, Gerikat has nevertheless attracted many people from the central region to check out how jellyfish are caught.

Lau Yong Kui, an owner of a sundry shop and small factory in Gerikat, has been buying jelly fish from the locals for decades. The composition of the local water – a mixture of river and sea water – is a good breeding ground for jellyfish.

Camera-shy Lau, who has been staying in Gerikat for many years, said he buys in bulk from the local fishermen, mostly Melanaus, and markets the jellyfish in his local restaurant. He now hires local people to work in his factory where he packages the jellyfish for export, especially to West Malaysia.

The jellyfish fishing season is usually between 6 am to 2 pm, in between February to May.

Lau and his brother own several businesses in Gerikat and purchase jellyfish from the locals at the price of RM1 per kilogram. “Fishermen can get as much as 20 Kg per day,” he said adding that there will be some five to 10 boats going out to the sea each time.

Preservation of the jellyfish is a process that requires a lot of work before it can be served for consumption. However, Lau said it is more important to know how to identify the poisonous version of the red jellyfish, which is not edible.

Lau explained that the white jellyfish are suitable for consumption while the red ones are best left alone as it stings if touched. He said the red ones can be consume but the process of extracting the poison requires a lot of time and is a tedious procedure.

After the heads and legs of the jellyfish are separated, alum soda and salt are use to solidify them to prevent the jellyfish from decay. The jellyfish would dehydrate and then be cut into slices and sold in the market.

“It is a pity that jellyfish fishing is not bring promoted as a tourist attraction. It has the potential to bring tourists in,” said Lau, who also runs a restaurant in Sarikei and jelly fish is one of the specialty dishes on the menu.

A local travel agent in Sibu said Gerikat has a lot of potential to boost the local economy if only the government has interest to help develop Sarikei’s tourism industry.

It could help the local folks to earn some extra money and put the small fishing village on the map.

"After all, it just takes a 15-minute boat ride to catch jellyfish which is an interesting activity and exciting experience for outsiders," the travel agent said.
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