Image: Fish trap, Federated States of Micronesia E15862

Fish trap, Federated States of Micronesia E15862

Local name: uu

Provenance: Losap Atoll, Chuuk Province, Federated States of Micronesia, Micronesia, Pacific

Fishtraps were a common fishing technique throughout the Pacific, the shape and size of the traps being determined by their use. Most common are small traps set in coral areas, a fishing method often practiced by women and girls, or the elderly. Larger traps are placed in deep water and are weighted with stones to anchor them; others may be used in conjunction with stone fish weirs.

In Losap, bream and pink parrotfish were caught in wooden traps which could be baited or unbaited with vegetable matter and/or crushed crab. Slender sticks are lashed together with coir cord (coconut husk) to make a cage-like trap which is then set on the reef in a lagoon comparatively close to shore in water 6-12 feet deep, depending on the tide. Fish must pass through a ‘passageway’ leading to the interior of the trap and, once through, it is difficult to escape. While one of the least productive methods of fishing, it offers certain advantages: it does not require a boat or exposure to the open sea; it does not need to be tended by many, hence is ideal for family use; and it keeps fish alive until needed.

This object was donated to the Australian Museum in 1906 by Mr Percy Black, a shipping company employee who travelled frequently to the Torres Strait and New Guinea. He was a prolific collector and supplied the Museum with over 250 fossils, animals, shells and artefacts.

Description: fish trap made of brown, open, wood and coconut fibre; rectangular shape with flat base of bamboo strips; four outward- sloping sides and a round top; an opening on one of the smaller sides with a 'passageway' leading to the interior of trap.

Height: 30.5cm; Length: 63cm; Width:43.5cm

Emma Furno
© Australian Museum

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