By Jennifer Nkui
As Christmas approaches each year the people of Mamaromino village in Buin, South Bougainville, are always on their toes as they look forward to an exciting day of fishing at the lake well known by the locals as ‘Ocean’.
The lake, which rests in the heart of the jungles of Buin, is approximately two to three hectares in size.
Late in the year, as is tradition, the people go on a fishing expedition on the lake and I was privileged enough to take part on 9 December 2014
According to custom the mouth of the lake which flows out into the Ungkumu River is blocked off and rituals are performed before fishing takes place.
This expedition is quite unique as fishing lines and bait are not required.
The locals bring traditionally woven string nets along with them to the lake and, since the bottom of the lake is muddy, the locals use their hands, feet and nets to catch the fish.
When the water is disturbed and it becomes murky with mud and the fish bury themselves in the mud which makes it very easy for the locals to catch them using their hands and feet.
To catch fish with their feet the locals walk around in the lake and they tend to step on the fish. It is most common to catch Talapias in this way and when they step on these the people will then, without lifting the foot, dive into the water and catch the fish using their hands.
It is interesting because the fish squirm and you have to be very firm in your grasp when you hold onto the fish, especially in the mud.
The small children always enjoy this fishing outing because they are taught the traditional skills of catching fish in a lake and everyone gets muddy.
I used to enjoy these fishing expeditions when I was a small girl and as a young adult, I still feel the excitement that surfaces when the topic of such fishing expeditions are brought up.
As an adult, I have come to realise that such expeditions not only teach the young population how to fish, but it teaches them skills that last a lifetime.