Saturday, September 19

9kg-Empurau makes fisherman an instant ‘thousandaire’

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Ong (left) and a friend Law Ngo Hin proudly display the Empurau for the press at Belaga Wharf in Kapit.

Ong (left) and a friend Law Ngo Hin proudly display the Empurau for the press at Belaga Wharf in Kapit.

KAPIT: An Empurau (fish) weighing 9kg was sold for RM8,550 here to a fishmonger Ong Ee Ching yesterday making the lucky fisherman an instant ‘thousandaire’.

The fisherman, Panggau Jugah, from a longhouse along Baleh River, said he caught the whooper Tuesday evening at Sungai Melatai, a tributary of Baleh River.

News of the catch caused quite a stir among the townsfolk.

A big crowd came to see the big fish and many took selfies with fish simply because it was rare nowadays to see Empurau that big in town.

“In the 1960s Empurau, Tengadak or Semah were plentiful but now there are more fishermen than there are fish in the rivers here. Their prices too were measured in the cents per kg then. Nowadays, Empurau are rarely caught which thus explains the big price,” said Ee Ching.

“Empuraus are not meant for the local folk. They simply cannot afford the high price. It’s the tycoons or politicians from Sibu, Kuching or even Kuala Lumpur who buy them as festive gift or for own consumption.

Kapit is famous for exotic fresh water fish like Empurau which is priced RM950/kg, Tengadak (RM450) and Semah (RM180).

Other less expensive fish are Labang (Patin), Lajong, Kedebok, Ketutu, Tapa, Padi, Mengalang, Lampang Jawa, Baung and Saggang.

There are two types of Empuraus – Empurau merah (RM250 to RM300/kg) which has tough skin, and the short Empurau which is the better type and are only available from Baleh River.