The 29th Saiburi Fishing Tournament - Arts of Thailand | Janine Yasovant | Scene4 Magazine | March 2016 |

Janine Yasovant
 คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย

For almost 30 years, there has been an annual famous fishing event held in Saiburi District, Pattani Province. This event is regarded as a very important traditional ceremony of which people there are very proud. In the past, Saiburi was the first-class city. Both sides of the Saiburi River were prosperous communities and the west of the city was next to the sea. Many of the Thai kings used to travel along this river to visit their people. Notably, there are some old photos King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) of Thailand. These photos recorded important events when the king visited the court of justice, city hall and the palaces of city lords in Pattani Province. Mansions of the governors and government buildings were constructed in European style. There was also the construction, beautification and maintenance of some government buildings, Thai temples, mosques and shrines. The present king Bhumibholadulyadej (Rama IX) visited the South and resided at Taksin Ratchaniwet palace. He and a group of civil officials traveled by Kolae boats along Saiburi River to visit villagers there many times in the past. Those villagers were mainly Thai Buddhist, Chinese-Thai, and Thai Muslim. The king also had a lifetime Thai Muslim friend called Wadeng Putae, 96 years old, who died in 2012.

At the present, there are many good things happening in communities around the Saiburi river basin including a group of young artists who join and work together to develop and decorate the area. This opens more opportunity for residents in the communities there to show their talents and practices in art, agricultural and industrial sectors. For example, in the art sector we can see many beautiful handicrafts such as paintings and sculptures. Moving on to the agricultural sector, the growing of rice, garden plants and farm crops provide better yields and quality. Lastly, at industrial sector, the production of coconut oil, shipwright, bird cage and goldsmith are important industries in the area. Moreover, the fishery businesses require handmade fishing boats to catch fish and seafood. For many decades, the famous products from the female groups are textiles, fish crisp rice and boodoo sauce used in southern food cooking.


The fishing tournament event was held at Taluban Sub-district where Wasukri basin was located. I had a great time talking with an electrical engineer, Lookman Masea, who called himself “Nai Chang Faifa (electrician)”. I found that he answered all my interview questions about the fishing tournament in Saiburi. Normally, the Kolae boats of fishermen are used. Such vessels are regarded as the most beautiful fishing boats in the Thai gulf. The competition lasts only three days in the clear sky and the dates are determined mainly by the moon.

JY: Tell us about the tournament.  

LM: This fishing tournament in Taluban Sub-district, Saiburi District is very important and a famous event in Pattani Province nowadays. It also helps fishermen to earn some money. In my view, I would like to see more public relations and advertising because this year 2016 is the 29th fishing tournament. The venue at Wasukri basin is an excellent source of la arge number of fish. If possible, I would like to add a rule that each fish caught must be large and heavier than 10 kilograms. Any small fish must be released back to the sea. Fishing is an interesting sport for the competition and anyone interested in fishing can learn and live with it every day. Due to the abundance of local fish in the area, in the sea there is an island called Koh Laopi which has significant number of fish.


The three days of competition are usually between April and May. This may depend on the current weather and the safety from the thunderstorms. For many years we have tried to fish conservatively, but we would like the department of fishery to help preserve rare species of sea fish such as (Kuela) threadfin fish, which is very expensive. I have heard that there was a project of the Ministry of Justice in 2014 to release shrimps and barramundi fish back to the sea. There is a research and development center of coastal fishery in Phuket Province that constructed a facility to nurse young fish with a water rotation system. I just hope this kind of project would be set up at Saiburi District to better take care of fish around the coastal area of Saiburi. As far as I know, there is already a research and development center for the lower Thai gulf area for Songkla and nearby provinces. I realize that the promotion of a fishing event should be a serious concern for the department of fishery. However, many fishermen in this area do not sit idly and do nothing. They try to establish a group or initiative to protect and preserve the marine life around the coastal area. One problem is the fishery practice with small fishnets that catch too many young fish because of high demand from the fish-meal industry. Overfishing causes a shortage of fish in the long run. To cope with this problem, everyone in the community should learn about this problem and set a campaign to educate others. Furthermore, a proper law should be enforced to forbid fishing during the season that fish lay their eggs. There are also some problems about unrest form political situation. It is hoped that good administration could bring peace back as soon as possible.

JY: What about your personal life, career and the reason why you participate in this event?

LM: My current profession is electrical engineer. I received a Bachelor’s degree of electrical engineering at Kasembundit University in Bangkok. In this event, I and my team are responsible for the installation of electrical equipment and lights from the venue on nearby roads, electric posts, bridges and billboards. In the sea, there will be a large floating electric banner “Saiburi Fishing Game Tournament” written in Thai language.


My team of electricians and I will install the cable wires under the sea to control thousands of LEDs that I used to design many years ago. The installation will take about two weeks to complete. Apart from electrical system design and fishing database for this fishing event, I have been a counselor of the municipality from the 2nd to the upcoming 29th Fishing Game Tournament. This is the thing I am so proud of and determined for 27 years —that I joined this fishing competition in Saiburi.

JY: Do you have any interesting story about this fishing tournament to share with us?        


LM: In contrast to typical electrical engineer, I frequently climb up electric posts like electricians because I am concerned about the safety of less experienced electricians and I want to act as a good model for them. Apart from usual jobs and this event, I design and control electricals system for celebrations of king and queen birthdays and national holidays. To install some LEDs in very high places requires appropriate machinery like a movable crane. Underwater electrical system during the competition is the responsibility of me and my team who install and disassemble equipment. For many years there has been no serious trouble that we cannot manage.

I can remember my impression of fishing. This story happened when I was around seven years old. One night I awoke and found that I was in the fishing boat with my father. He taught me about fishing, encouraged me to realize the value of the sea that he worked with for a living and learn about marine life in the Thai gulf. After that, I followed and accompanied him to go fishing in the sea or the fishing event at Wasukri basin, as frequently as possible. In my life, I assure myself that I will never leave the sea. Moreover, Mr.Atsawin Haweeket, as known as Pa Daeng, came to our house and rented my father’s fishing boat to Koh Laopi which was far from Wasukri basin, about 12 miles. Mr.Atsawin was a founder for Saiburi Fishing Game Tournament. My father and I participated in his competition and helped him in his work. This helped me understand perspectives and visions in working and we have been working with him for 28 years. My intention is for conservative fishing as we should help each other and society to make our dream come true. It is to help Saiburi become vacation destination for people who love fishing sports and to strengthen business of Saiburi District to the glorious level like it was in the long past. Coming to Saiburi District is really simple: train, bus and airplane. Only 25 km from Narathiwat Airport. Every organization should cooperate and we have to make sure that our venue can support foreign fishermen. I hope this might be a part of national development plan with simplicity and harmony among people.                  


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คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย
Scene4 Magazine: Janine Yasovant

Janine Yasovant is a writer in Chiang Mai, Thailand and a Senior Writer for Scene4.
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©2016 Janine Yasovant
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