The “dema” fish trap is a traditional fishing technique used in Zanzibar, an island archipelago off the coast of Tanzania. The dema trap is a type of fish trap made from natural materials such as sticks, poles, and palm fronds.
The construction of a dema fish trap involves creating a semi-circular frame made from sturdy sticks or poles, with an opening on one side for fish to enter. The frame is then covered with tightly woven palm fronds or other pliable vegetation to form a net-like structure. The design of the trap is such that fish can swim into the entrance but have difficulty finding their way out. This makes it an effective method for catching various species of fish.
Dema fish traps are typically set in shallow waters, such as lagoons, estuaries, and near the coastline. The traps are positioned during low tide when the water level is lower, allowing the fish to enter easily. Once the trap is set, it is left undisturbed for several hours or overnight, allowing fish to gradually accumulate inside.
Fishermen periodically check the traps and collect the caught fish by either lifting the whole trap out of the water or by reaching into the trap to remove the fish. The caught fish are then either consumed locally or sold in nearby markets.
The dema fish trap is an integral part of Zanzibari fishing culture and has been used for generations by local fishermen. It is a sustainable fishing method that minimizes bycatch and ecological impact, as well as preserves fish stocks. The use of natural materials also makes the dema trap an environmentally friendly fishing technique.
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in reviving and promoting traditional fishing practices like the dema fish trap as a way to support local communities and preserve cultural heritage while ensuring sustainable resource management.
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