The freshwater shrimps are delicious. Having an elongated body more or less cylindrical and slightly flat on the sides, they are covered with a thin shell, with sun antennas. Very appreciated in the kitchen, their habitat is the river. Yet, very few residents take the opportunity to market them.
The people of Belle Rive / Olivia were fishing freshwater “prawns” as a source of income to meet their family needs.
Belle-Rive / Olivia River plays a very important role in the lives of the villagers. It is a source of food and income. We went to meet the people, to discover the culinary traditions of yesteryear.
Sitting on the sidewalk of the main road, fishermen are choosing the crustaceans they just fished through their bag. Then, they place them on a tray.
“The ‘shrimps’ that run through our river are caught standing in the water,” says Jean-Pierre Ferdinand, 42. The “shrimps” are sold fresh in the village itself. “Here, fishing ‘shrimps’ is a fact of life of the villagers. This is the only source of income for us,” said this father of three who is also a carpenter.
Jean-Pierre Ferdinand said that shrimp fishing is done throughout the year although the best season is summer. In fact, the water of the river is heated by the summer sun and “shrimps” look deeper to the soils.
Therefore, they are easily caught. “This fishing technique has a secular tradition that we got from our parents. It is an activity that is a main source of income for many families living in the area. This is still the case today. Nothing has changed,” he added.
Fishermen standing in the river, push their nets in search of shellfish. They attract the curiosity of walkers eager to see the catch. “The shrimp fisherman must be able to fit the seasons and weather conditions. He walks in the water for a long period of time everyday. It is a fishing activity that requires energy and it is very tiring,” suggests the fisherman.
“Of nocturnal habits, the ‘prawns’ spend most of the day hidden under seaweed. So we use jute bags for scraping the rock walls starting from the bottom going upwards and to fish under the algae. One must not be afraid to get water up to the waist,” said the fisherman.
After fishing, sorting is important because you have to release the small shrimp for them to reproduce. “Shrimp larvae are daily released into the water to make sure to have shrimps the following day,” he said. “We clean the ‘shrimps’ that are just caught. Then we sell them at Rs, 100 per plate.”
The crustaceans get clients every day. “People from different parts of the island and foreign place order from us. Bann dimun oule manz seki fre. Sevret kuler rose ki vande dan bazar fini griye.”
“As you see, the size of ‘shrimps’ varies from two to eight centimeters. In their natural environment, they are not pink, but translucent. Its only after cooking that they take the pink color characteristic. Customers appreciate the exceptional taste of freshwater shrimp.”
Story of fishermen
Jean-Marc Cader, 49, is like Jean-Pierre Ferdinand, a fisherman residing near the river. A shack serves as a home for his family and the carpenter has nothing else. For over ten years, the main business of this father is fishing freshwater “shrimps”.
Around the lake, fishermen are busy fishing “shrimps”, tilapia, eels … ” As the saying goes, it takes all kinds of things to make a complete world. Life is very hard. We, shrimp fishermen, risk our lives to support our families,” points out Jean-Marc Cader.
“Our revenues are insufficient. They allow us to buy just groceries for the family. It takes a lot of patience in this business. This is a difficult task that requires endurance and patience,” notes the shrimp fisherman.