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Squid trap in Nha Trang Bay

Khanh Hoa fishermen drove a boat out to sea for a few nautical miles to release squid traps, at the end of the harvest day, selling for 170,000-320,000 VND per kilogram depending on the type, earning nearly one million VND.

In the early days of May, in the early morning of Nha Trang Bay, more than a dozen boats ran to the sea to trap squid. At nearly 4 a.m., fisherman Nguyen Van Hao removed the anchor line and started the boat with a capacity of 24CV. About 30 minutes, the boat arrived at a predetermined position, about three nautical miles from the shore. With more than 15 years of experience at sea, Mr. Hao only needs to look at the water and the weather to know where the most ink is concentrated.

When he arrived, Mr. Hao prepared more than 100 traps in the shape of a rectangular box, 0.6 m wide, and 1.2 m long, with a bamboo frame. Around the cage is a thin net, black nylon fibers cover both sides of the cage to create a dark area to attract ink. In the cage, he attached a bunch of squid eggs or jelly as bait. Each squid trap was bought by him for about 150,000 VND.

“The squid sees the eggs in the cage and will find a way to get in and get caught in the trap,” said Mr. Hao, explaining that using fake white jelly as bait is very effective, helping to save the amount of natural squid egg bait.

When the boat moved, Mr. Hao quickly dropped each trap into the sea 4-5 m deep. To fix, the bottom of the trap is tied with a 10 kg stone, and the top of the cage is connected with a 15 m long rope, tied to a buoy floating on the water. Where there is a lot of ink, he releases more frequent traps.

All cages were released into the sea by the fishermen within two hours. To avoid confusion with other people’s traps, Mr. Hao made a separate sign on the buoy. Then, he found a place to anchor the boat, waiting for the high tide (afternoon) to start harvesting.

Squid trap in Nha Trang Bay
Mr. Hao dropped cage traps into the sea to lure squid into laying eggs. Photo: Bui Toan

Mr. Hao’s worried expression appeared at the whirring sound of a fishing boat fishing nearby. According to him, squid trapping is the most afraid of this type of boat because fishing uses thick, multi-layer and lead nets to catch seafood from the bottom to the water surface. Small and large fish, including squid, did not escape. Many ships even towed fishermen’s cages.

At harvest time, Mr. Hao used a pole about 2 m long to attach a hook at the top. Every time he reached the trap position, he used the pole to pull the rope to tie the float up. Sometimes he pulled 5 or 6 traps continuously and didn’t get any squid, but sometimes when he pulled up, there was a cuttlefish weighing nearly kg. “This job is very limited, sometimes earning a few million, but sometimes losing even money,” he said.

After 4 hours of pulling the cage, Mr. Hao collected about 7 kg of squid, of which two kg of squid and 5 kg of cuttlefish. “This trip is quite successful,” he said, and said that on average, every day when going to the sea, he earns 3-4 kg of squid, minus all costs, and makes a profit of 700,000-800,000 VND. At the end of the afternoon, squid-trapping boats landed in time to sell to the purchasing barn.

Almost a kilogram of fresh cuttlefish was caught by Mr. Hao when he pulled the cage up. Photo: Bui Toan

According to the fishermen, except for the rainy and windy months, the squid season in the bay lasts all year, but the peak is in the summer, from March to August of the lunar calendar. The fishing boats near the shore mainly collect cuttlefish and squid. Traders buy cuttlefish at 170,000 VND per kg, squid leaves almost double the price, 320,000 VND per kg.

Fresh squid leaves are processed into many delicious dishes such as: grilled satay, steamed with onion fat, fried sweet and sour, while cuttlefish is often boiled and dipped with ginger sauce.

Nha Trang Bay is located east of Nha Trang City, with an area of ​​nearly 25,000 hectares, the second-largest in Khanh Hoa after Van Phong Bay. Fishermen here exploit seafood all year round.

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