My PhD research is a year behind schedule. The process of getting my research permit and subsequent visa was supposed to take 4-6 months. It eventually took 14 months and left me with a very short period to complete my field data collection.
I have now finished two data collection trips to Malaysia and am now back in Kyoto processing the data and getting ready to analyze, write, and publish.
Over the course of the two trips I conducted 59 interviews, interviewed 75 respondents, taking 34 hours and 14 minutes. Interviews were conducted in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Kota Kinabalu, Kudat and Semporna. I interviewed government officers, consultants, NGO representatives, and fishermen. During the second trip, I had the help of a great research assistant, Lau Chai Ming, who assisted with translations and scheduling of appointments.
We hung out around fishing jetties in Kudat and Semporna and met with fish traders and fishing boat owners. Trawlers are common in Kudat. They drag a net behind them along the bottom of the sea and scoop up anything that is living along the bottom. Its a pretty destructive form of fishing.
We also got to visit Pulau Banggi and see the great work of the Banggi Youth Club. The Youth Club conducts awareness activities with local communities and works closely with WWF.
In Semporna we observed the Mabul tuna landing. Fishermen use small boats to spend 2 to 3 days at sea and pull up tuna with just a line and a hook. Without any other equipment they can land tunas that weigh up to 70 kg. The ones we watched them land were in the 20 to 30 kg size.
We were even lucky enough to get invited onto a purse seine boat during a trip out in Semporna. Unfortunately, there was a full moon the week we were in Semporna so the purse seiners were not able to fish very much. They spent most of the week at the jetty doing repairs and mending nets. On our last night we got invited out. Here’s a short video of one of the exciting parts – little fish jumping in green light.