Traps are simple, passive fishing gear that allow fish to enter and then make it hard for them to escape. This is often achieved by:
- putting chambers in the trap or pot that can be closed once the fish enters;
- having a funnel that makes it difficult for the fish to escape. Smaller traps are generally fully covered except for the entrance or entrances, while larger traps that extend above the water level are often left open at the top.
Before you start trapping there are several things you will need to know:
- the type(s) of fish you want to catch and the type(s) of traps or pots that will catch them;
- the type(s) of bait needed for these fish and where you can get it;
- suitable landing and storage for your catch on board;
- a market for your catch.
TYPES OF FISH TO CATCH AND THE TRAPS THAT WILL CATCH THEM
Although this manual gives general information on traps and pots, there are several other sources of local information on the fish that you wish to catch and the gear needed to catch them.
- the results from various types of fishing operations in the area;
- private local knowledge from fishers, fishing companies and fresh fish markets and from fishing companies in other areas and countries;
- public surveys by local fishing companies, the government, FAO or other international organizations.
TYPES OF BAIT AND/OR OTHER ATTRACTANTS NEEDED AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
Good bait is normally essential in successful trap fishing, although some subsistence fishers use only white or shining objects to attract the fish. Sometimes the trap itself will lure the fish inside (e.g. habitat traps).
Bait must be:
- effective in attracting fish;
- readily available;
- easy to store and conserve;
- cheap enough to allow the operation to be profitable. The most effective baits are usually oily fish such as sardines and mullet. Soft fish that break up after the trap has been set form a good “plume” that will readily attract fish. If traps or pots are set for longer periods, however, harder baits may be needed, or a combination of both soft and hard.
SUITABLE LANDING PLACES
When you start trapping, you will often land the catch on existing wharves or on the beach. Here you can sell it, pass it on to your family, ice it or preserve it by freezing, salting, drying, smoking, etc. If your trapping venture becomes well established and profitable, you will need to be sure that the catch can be landed easily, cheaply and in good condition. Although existing landing places may be good enough during the initial phase of your operation, you may need new or upgraded landing places as your fishery develops.
A MARKET FOR YOUR CATCH
If you wish to sell all or part of your catch, it is very important that you preserve it in a way that suits your customers. The best method of preservation will vary according to:
- the time and distance from catching to the point of sale;
- the climate in the area where you fish;
- the value of the fish.
You should always try to land your fish in the best possible condition, but you should also always balance the rewards of landing high-quality fish against the cost of achieving that quality. There is no point landing fish in firstclass condition if it costs more to do so than the selling price you can expect to earn.
FUNDING FOR NEW VESSELS AND EQUIPMENT
The source of finance for fishing operations is outside the scope of this manual and is an aspect that can only be looked at locally. However, in some areas specific schemes are sponsored and funded by local organizations and banks. You should talk to your local fisheries organization about these schemes.