The Chinese introduced these fishing nets here and they are the only one of its kind in India. The early design of the Chinese fishing net structure was made of bamboo and overtime they change it to wood for better durability and probably increase in size too.
This nets will need about 4-6 person to operate and the basic concept is to dip the net into the backwater and raise it after few minutes to see any catch in the net.
I have a chat with one of the fisherman who is inviting me up to his net structure and allowing me to click my camera like crazy. He was explaining that during high tide, they are less likely to lower the net for fear that the current will break the structure. Before they lower the net into the water, they will release 2 or more ropes (found on land at the side wards of the structure) that tight the net up using some counter balance method. Once the ropes are released, they will lower the net and 2 of them will be climbing up the structure that spread the nets in order to add weight and press the net into the water.
When it is time to raise the net, all of them will be pulling ropes at the middle section with extra weights (rocks) that make up part of the fish net structure. There must be lots of physic rules need to be applied here. And you gotta trust Chinese and Indian to perfect the formula.
You haven't seen Cochin, if you haven't seen Fort Cochin's famous and mysterious fishing nets.
Like totems from another age stranded in time, they perch along the backwaters.
Those Chinese fishing nets are the most efficient means of backwater fishing and Fort Cochin is full of them. Dexterous fishermen constantly rise and descend them.....
Chinese Fishing Nets" a hallmark of Cochin, speaks of the first traders, who visited this coast during 1350 - 1450 AD. These nets are built using teak wood and bamboo poles. They can be best viewed at " vasco-Da-gama Square" Fort Cochin, located fourteen kilometers from the City.The Chinese fishing nets (Cheena vala) of Fort Kochi (Fort Cochin) in the City of Kochi (Cochin), in the Indian State of Kerala, are fixed land installations for an unusual form of fishing — shore operated lift nets. Huge mechanical contrivances hold out horizontal nets of 20 m or more across. Each structure is at least 10 m high and comprises a cantilever with an outstretched net suspended over the sea and large stones suspended from ropes as counterweights at the other end. Each installation is operated by a team of up to six fishermen.
The Chinese fishing nets have become a very popular tourist attraction, their size and elegant construction is very photogenic and the slow rhythm of their operation is quite hypnotic. In addition, catches can be purchased individually and need be taken only a short distance to an street entrepreneur who will cook it.
The first sighting of the Cheenavala - Chinese fishing nets - is quite remarkable if - like me you have never before even seen a picture of them.
We first saw them towards the end of our Backwaters cruise as the sun was setting. They seem to emerge from the water like a giant spider making a huge web of netting.
The frames are made of wood and operate on a basic mechanical system inventented in China. It is said that they were first introduced to Kochi by traders plying the silk and spice routes from the Court of the Kublai Khan in the 14/15th Century.
Like so many inventions that at first seem complicated their operation is quite simple, though delicately balanced to match changing water depths and tidal movements and the weights used in lowering and raising them.
At one time the catch from the frequent, daily lowering and raising of the nets could produce 40 kilos per day - a good catch for independent fishermen. But it can take half a dozen or more to operate the nets throughout the day.They have to pay the owner of the “contraption” rent and then share the profits from the catch on a cooperative basis.
The 2005 Tsunami in this region had an adverse impact on fish stocks and catches now are much lower.
The fish that are caught are sold in ad hoc market stalls along the beach. a colourful stop for tourists as well as locals.
One of the most popular sights of Cochin are these rows of cantilevered fishing nets.
This efficient and effective way of fishing was introduced by Chinese traders from the court of Kublai Khan.
Although they appear to have a simple design they are quite complicated and expensive to set up.
Please see my next tips for more details-
This was the one day during my Kerala holiday that there was no blue sky :-(
This method of fishing operates on the principle of weights and counterweights.
Large rocks attached to the ropes enable the net to be raised and lowered. This takes a team of 4 men to manoeuvre the pulleys.
The net is lowered into the water, and rocks hold it in place. After about 15 minutes, the men walk along the platform, pulling hard on the ropes, as the rocks reach a certain point, their counterbalance action gently raises the net out of the water, scooping up the catch.
As is typical in Kerala, the fishermen are members of a union, to provide protection from exploitation by the net owners.
Those can be found along the shore line in Cochin. The only time I have seen these nets before was in China, and this is the only part in India where these nets are used. Because of the size between 6 and 8 people are used to "operate" these nets when they are full. I have seen the operation once, and was astonished how "chaotic" it works... I guess it takes a system that we don't understand.
Lining the north shore of Fort Kochi are the Chinese fishing nets, probably the most famous image of Kochi/Kerala. The local name for the nets is cheena-wala (of China). It is believed that traders from the court of Chinese ruler Kublai Khan introduced the nets to the region in the 14th century.
Constructed from bamboo and teak the nets are suspended from arched poles and operated by levers and weights and require at least four men to control them. The nets themselves can be 20m or more.
You can watch the fishermen haul up the nets early in the morning or late afternoon. Views at sunset are particularly nice.
You cannot miss it. This is most probably the picture you see when you think of Cochin.
Take some time to talk to the fishermen, they are very friendly and welcoming to visitors. The photographic oppurtunities are great.
A combination of cords, pulleys and weights is attached to the 2 wooden poles that rise 30m into the air from a platform.
From their tips, hang 4 wooden talons, which the huge net is suspended from.
A walk through the small town of Kochi, also known as Cochin in South india will soon bring you to the waterfront and the square.
One of the main attractions here are the "Chinese fishing nets". Not only are these net and bamboo structures incredible, but the atmosphere and way of life down here is superb!
The fisherman will catch the fish for you, you then choose one of many people to cook it for you in the square. Plastic tables and chairs are available for use once you have chosen your chef!
According to the legend, these nets were introduced by the Chinese explorer Zheng He. They are an example of shore operated lift nets because they are held horizontally by a large fixed structure and periodically lowered into the water.
The entire structure of the Chinese fishing nets is about 10 meters in height. Each fishing net spreads to about 20 meters over the water body and is operated by a team of some six fishermen. As each net has a limited operating depth, there are different fishing nets for operation, depending on the state of the tide.
The net is left into the water for three minutes, before it is raised back by tugging the ropes. The catch is usually modest.
It is a great experience to incorpore the fishermen team!
No trip to Cochin is complete without seeing the Chinese Fishing Nets. They were supposedly introduced to the region from the court of Kublai Khan and are now the city's symbol. I enjoyed walking along the dock, smelling the fish, and watching the fishermen work them.
When you get off the ferry, and walk along the harbour, one of the first things you'll see is the unusual method of fishing employed here - a huge net suspended on a cantilever which is lowered into the sea, then raised with ropes and weights, lifting the catch out of the water. The fish are usually sold at nearby stalls.
It is believed that the nets may have been introduced by the Chinese explorer Zheng He in the early 15th century.
Keralatourism have a good video of them at the link below.
First erected between 1350 and 1450, these cantilevered fishing nets indicate trade links with China. Known as Cheena vala they are fixed to the land with an outstretched net suspended over the sea and large stones suspended from ropes as counterweights at the other end. Each installation is operated by a team of up to six fishermen.
I got called over to one by 5 guys who were working on it and they showed me some of the small fish they had caught with names like toad fish and pen fish. I then helped them by pulling up the net which they say they do between 250 and 350 times a day! You'll get some lovely photos of them at sunset if you stand at the far end of the line of them so that you can see the sun setting over them in the distance (see next tip).