Joelle bags her first fish! by Dad Bear
Joelle bags her first fish!, a photo by Dad Bear on Flickr.

Was invited to spend a weekend at a Kelong in JB. For the uninitiated, a kelong is usually used to describe a floating platform built on stilts and a generally wooden structure. Here, salt water fish are reared from fries all the way to adulthood, whereupon they are usually sold off for commercial profit. Nets are placed between the stilts, all the way down to the sea bed, to ensure the fish do not out, and more important, predators do not find their way in.

The second meaning to Kelong is actually a trap made by the local indigenous people in Asia, used to catch fish, usually in a fast flowing waters, like a river. In the diagrams below:

The trap is usually anchored securely under water. Water flow is from right to left (in the diagram below). Fish swim or are pushed by the current into the kelong and enters the trap. It is then forced by the current to enter the smaller opening which is like a little chute then opens up into the trap proper. The fish then enters the cavernous space of the kelong which is sealed off, leaving the fish effectively trapped. In certain variants, the pointed end of the sticks used in the traps, make exit impossible, as the fish will inpale itself if it tries to escape the way it gets in.

A very simple but a very effective manner of fishing.

The third meaning to Kelong, refers to a problem endemic in the local sports scene in the 70’s and 80’s, in particular football or soccer, as it is known in certain quarters. Kelong is generally used to describe an act of dishonesty or fraud, where players or match officials are bribed into throwing away a particular match. As the betting goes, if team X is given odds of winning by at least 2 clear goals against team Y, then certain members in team Y are then bribed to play badly or concede penalties to ensure that the winning margin is met. Match officials can also be bribed to give away soft penalties, or send off key players to ensure the same result. The term “Kelong” would be chanted by fans on the terraces if they notice players or match officials doing something which defies logic or generally against the run of play. Matchfixing kelong probably refers to the ease in which players or officials find it easy to be bribed (entering the trap). However, once the bait is taken, they find it more and more difficult to get out of the trap, as the threat of being found out, disgraced and even physical threats to life, takes over every part of their lives. In a study by FIFA released in May 2011, it was revealed that Singapore bookmakers were in part, responsible for betting scandals in football matches in Europe .

Anyway, this weekend we were celebrating the birthday of Shern, one of I’s friends in the school rugby team. We had a great time. Too bad I himself couldn’t be around, he was stuck rehearsing for his big gig next week, the World Finals for Odyssey of the Mind, to be held in Maryland, USA.  Lucky chap, getting to travel all round the world at the age of 11. Meantime, J and me went to make up the numbers. The kelong that we went to was still doing some fish rearing. However, its main commercial activity was hosting tourists on weekend trips, allowing them to experience what life was like on a kelong. We had a blast! The food was good, the fishing was great fun for the kids, but most important, the company was excellent. Thanks WM, for organising everything!

More pictures from the weekend getaway at the Kelong can be seen here: