People living near Ea Sup Lake catch fish and lotus stems to make a living

April 27, 2021 - 08:49

Fishing and gathering lotus stems from Ea Sup Lake in the Central Highlands province of Đắk Lắk have brought the main income to local people living near the lake.


A woman living near Ea Sup Lake rides a boat to catch fish. — Photo

ĐẮK LẮK — The bountiful fish and lotus stocks in Ea Sup Lake in the Central Highlands province of Đắk Lắk have helped people living near the lake thrive.

Located near Ea Sup Lake is a community of hundreds of households who make a living by catching fish.

Most of them hail from southern provinces and moved to the lake in 2009, hoping that catching fish and snails would improve their livelihoods.

Like many villagers, Nguyễn Văn Hưng rides a boat to the lake to catch fish at 3-4pm and comes back at 4-5am the next morning with full nets.

“I have been living here for more than 10 years. There are not many lakes in the Central Highlands region like Ea Sup where we can catch fish. We are quite happy about our life although sometimes we don’t catch a lot of fish. We earn VNĐ200,000-300,000 per day from fishing,” he told Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.

Phùng Văn Thanh, 53 years old, and his family moved from his hometown in the south-central province of Bình Định to Ea Sup Lake 10 years ago.

The water level in the upper and lower parts of Ea Sup Lake is high year-round so people can catch fish all the time.

“At first, we caught fish for our meals only but then the abundant source of fish here helps us make a living,” he said.

Thanh and his wife catch about 20-30kg of fish every day. Then they dry the fish under the sunshine and sell them to traders who come to their house to buy.

“Traders like the fish because of their quality. Fishermen in this area use nets, fishing rods and traditional methods to catch fish, which do not harm aquatic resources so we can stay in the fishing job for a long time,” he said.

“Ea Sup is the freshwater fish production area of the province. Fishing gives people a high and stable income. The fish are sold to provincial markets and other neighbouring localities like HCM City and Bình Dương,” he said.

Lê Hoàng Tiến, a villager, said “We release the nets to catch fish every night and pick lotus stems and lotus seed pods in the daytime.”

During the lotus season in the summer, villagers swim to the middle of the lake to pick lotus seed pods and lotus stems which can be processed to make food.

Holding a bunch of lotus stems in her arms with her body soaked in water and mud, Phạm Thị Thương said: “I did not eat anything for breakfast before I dove into the lake because a full stomach would make it difficult to swim.”

“Picking lotus stems requires skills. We must move gently in order not to make the lotus break. The pickers have to dive for several hours in the water, crawling to the lotus roots to find the stems,” she said.

Lotus stem collectors have to wake up early and stay in the lake until midday. On lucky days, they can find areas with lots of lotus and bring back 10 bunches. Each bunch is sold at VNĐ15,000 for those who want to make shrimp and lotus stem salad and pickles.

Lê Hoàng Tiến rides a boat to the middle of the lake where the water level is the highest to pick lotus seed pods.

After removing the lotus nuts from the pods, he collects 30kg of nuts each day which sell for VNĐ30,000 per kg.

A villager rides a boat to the middle of the lake to pick lotus stems and lotus seed pods. — Photo

“Many people in Buôn Ma Thuột City want to buy old lotus seeds and dry them for long-term preservation. Sometimes we can not collect enough seeds to meet the demand,” he said.

“Life here is hard but at least we have a job to make a living,” he said. — VNS