Thanh Hóa fishermen enjoy abundant jellyfish hauls

October 25, 2023 - 10:16
Unlike many other types of marine animals, jellyfish can be caught near the shore with simple and less expensive gear, yet bringing in substantial economic value.
Fresh jellyfish are bought at the rate of VNĐ30,000 (US$1.3) each this year. — VNA/VNS Photos Trịnh Duy Hưng

THANH HÓA — Famous for its jellyfish products, the coastal Hoằng Trường Commune is enjoying one of the highest prices for their catches this year with an improved income for local fishermen.

Returning after a fishing trip, fisherman Nguyễn Văn Long said: “We often set sail to catch jellyfish in the late afternoon or around 1am.

“Jellyfish often swim to the surface for food at dawn, so this is the golden window for a catch. Fishermen only need to find the right current and drop the nets for three or four hours.

“Our boat has been catching around 100 to 200 jellyfish a day, small and big. Traders are buying them at the rate of VNĐ30,000 (US$1.30) each, so we can make around VNĐ3-6 million ($128-256) per trip.”

Long added that the jellyfish appeared later this year and in a smaller quantity than in previous seasons, but they are all large. Some weigh around 15-20kg.

The price of jellyfish is also more than two-fold the usual rate in previous years. Fishermen are excited to take advantage of the favourable weather and set sail for what they dubbed the ‘white gold’ of the sea.

Hoằng Trường Commune is also the largest location of procurement, processing and export for jellyfish in Thanh Hóa Province, with six major processing facilities providing jobs to hundreds of local workers.

In the past, the most arduous step in jellyfish processing is to remove their mucus. Without any machinery, workers have to use their own hands.

This slime can cause an extremely itchy sensation and can cause blisters and peel on workers’ hands if they are not covered correctly.

In recent years, thanks to new technology, the jellyfish will be chopped into smaller pieces, which will then be sorted out and cleansed in a tank for eight or ten hours, removing the residual water and mucus.

Following this step, the jellyfish will be soaked in a mixture of water, salt and alum for one week until their body becomes translucent, which means they are “cooked”. The product will then be packaged for shipment.

Processed jellyfish are soaked in a mixture of water, salt and alum.

Locals said that during this process, the salinity of the salt could preserve the jellyfish for up to two years while maintaining the clean, firm and crunchy texture.

Trương Đình Hiền, the owner of a jellyfish procurement and processing facility, said: “The jellyfish price is at the highest this year, almost double that of last year.

“Our facility buys jellyfish from around 50 fishermen households in Hoằng Trường. We procure more than 20 tonnes of fresh jellyfish daily for processing.

“The current price for the finished product ranges from VNĐ200,000 ($8.50) per 10kg of the jellyfish body, or VNĐ300,000-350,000 ($13-15) for the tentacles, which is considered the best part of the jellyfish.”

Jellyfish dishes are becoming increasingly popular with tourists at the local beach. These include jellyfish salad, soup and hotpot.

Unlike many other types of marine animals, jellyfish can be caught near the shore with simple and less expensive gear, yet bringing in substantial economic value.

In 2022, Hoằng Trường Commune produced more than 4,200 tonnes of jellyfish products. On average, locals can gain a total of VNĐ80-90 billion ($3.4-3.8 million) each season.

The produce has become a trademark of the locality.

Phạm Thanh Nam, vice chairman of Hoằng Trường Commune People’s Committee, said: “Catching and processing jellyfish is a long-standing profession here, and is becoming a traditional vocation of Hoằng Trường Commune.

“Hoằng Trường Commune now has approximately 200 vessels dedicated to catching jellyfish.

“After nearly three years of being affected by COVID-19, the usual markets of China and Thailand are reopening.

“Therefore, jellyfish exports are doing well with high prices, so people are excited and feel secure to continue setting sail and develop the local economy.”

To protect and take advantage of this aquatic resource, Thanh Hóa’s fishery sector has coordinated with the authorities of the coastal areas to encourage fishermen to use the favourable season.

They also recommend people protect the environment during the catches and processing, especially at tourist beaches. — VNS