The Tanjung Balau Fishermen’s Museum in Kota Tinggi district is the best place for visitors to learn a thing or two on the country’s fishery activities and its historic legacy.
The museum stands on a former site of Johor’s oldest fishing village founded almost a century ago by fishermen who came from Kelantan and Terengganu.
Opened in 1992 by the South-East Johor Development Authority (Kejora), it is located on an 8ha site, overlooking the South China Sea and just metres away from the popular Tanjung Balau public beach.
“This is the only museum in Malaysia which showcases the livelihood of traditional fishermen and their activities,’’ the museum’s assistant curator Muhammed Iqbal Rosli told StarMetro/allMalaysia.info.
He said while the number of traditional fishermen had dwindled – as youngsters were not keen to take up the job, there were still a small group of traditional fishermen who still depend on the seas for living.
Iqbal said the artefacts on display were either given by fishermen and their family members from all over the country or purchased by Kejora from antique shops.
He added it was not an easy task to acquire the artefacts as some were reluctant to part with their family’s possession due to sentimental reasons despite monetary offers.
“However, there are those who were more than willing to part with their heirloom knowing it will be put on display for the benefit of museum visitors,’’ said Iqbal.
The museum is divided into several galleries – the Fishermen’s Gallery showcasing the life of fishermen, fishing villages, rituals, tools and types of fishes they caught in artefacts, diorama, poster panels and photos.
At the Geology Gallery, there are over 100 unique stones of different shapes, sizes and colours believed to be million years old found in Tanjung Balau and its surrounding areas.
The Sea Gallery provides knowledge to visitors on marine navigation and communication systems, including safety aspects at sea.
The Desaru Shipwreck Gallery is named after a junk that sank off Desaru waters near the popular holiday area in southeast Johor on her way carrying cargo for the European markets in 1830s.
The junk was carrying tonnes of blue and white Chinese porcelain including 50,000 soup spoons as well as clay water urns and wine pitchers but only a small portion of the cargo from the ill-fated vessel is on display at the gallery.
“The wreck is named after Desaru as it was found there but the vessel’s original name is unknown,’’ said Iqbal.
He said apart from Desaru Ship – there were two other vessels carrying blue and white Chinese porcelain destined for the European consumers that sank off Desaru – Diana in 1817 and Tek Seng in 1822.
Tanjung Balau Fishermen’s Museum is open daily from 9am to 6pm. For details contact Iqbal at 012-972 6791 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org – Story and photos By ZAZALI MUSA