Thursday, January 6, 2011

collecting lala at venus bay

you do not always have to pay to pick or collect food in melbourne. the other day, 12 of ian's friends drove 160km to venus bay to collect the lala shellfish, which is called pipi by the local people. they came back with about 24 litres of the shellfish. venus bay is about 2 hours' drive from melbourne, heading south-east along the south gippsland highway.

a current recreational fishing licence is required by people taking or attempting to take pipis. you can apply for it on the spot, from a machine. each person is permitted to collect no more than 2 litres of pipi in the shell or half a litre without shells. harvesters have to use only their hands and feet. no form of digging implement is to be used. the pipis collected should be for personal use or consumption. some anglers use the pipi as bait.

owing to the increased levels of harvesting by recreational pipi collectors in the venus bay area, it was necessary to put in place a reduced limit. it used to be 5 litres until 2009; now, it is down to 2 litres per person.

i was told that in the past, some people would go as a group in a van and they would end up loading the van with as many as 5000 pipis or 100 litres (20 x 5l) of pipis.

lala (pipi) can be cooked in a number of ways. you can stir fry it with ginger and garlic or fry it with chilli and tomato sauce. ian's friends prepared it in a simple way - by making ginger soup.

it is advisable to soak the lala in water for sometime (say, about 15 minutes) before cooking them or you may end up eating some sediments (sand). this is especially so if you have collected the lala yourself from the surf beach.

this reminds me of the time - i think it was in the early 70s - when i visited my friend in penang and he took me to batu ferringhi beach to dig for 'siput' on the beach. i wonder if there are still 'siput' to be harvested.


Joe said...

Actually, it is not free because you have to pay $6 for a 2-day RFL.

yg said...

joe, yes, i forgot about that. but it is a small sum to pay for the fun of harvesting your own food from the sea.

Pat said...

Ahh ... the lalas at Kranji beach (after the Kranji Reservoir dam) are also free for picking during low tide. No entry fee. And no restriction on the kind of digging equipment you use, or how much you haul away -- although I don't think folks here drive away van-loads of the shellfish.

I'm not sure if these seafood at Kranji are hygienic or not, but the fun lies in the digging -- esp. with one's bare hands. I think there might be siputs too.

yg said...

so, those people at the kranji beach were digging for lalas. each time i saw children and adults on the beach at low tide, i had wondered what type of clams they were harvesting. i have seen horse-shoe crabs at the same beach.

Pat said...

Yep, many horseshoe crabs at the same Kranji Beach. Very cute, like reverse-facing ground-hugging tanks with tails (instead of guns).

There was once when I was at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity (RMBR), & there were 2 undergrad students holding a worksheet, chanting "horseshoe crab ? horseshoe crab ?" & looking in random directions.

I was initially rather puzzled because they were standing right in front of the glass case that contains the well-preserved horseshoe crab. It was only after one of them scanned through the display labels that they exclaimed, "Oh, this is horseshoe crab."

It suddenly dawned on me that these 1st/2nd-year biology undergrads had no idea how a horseshoe crab looks like. NUS should bring them on field trips to Kranji Beach, instead of giving them worksheets & making them look at dead horseshoe crabs that don't move at all. Now I wonder if these students realize where the head of the said crab is actually located.