Snap Mor: The Fishing Tradition in Biak, Papua

West Papua
Sumber : Merah Putih

Papua and West Papua are rich with maritime potentials and cultural tradition. Snap Mor is a fishing tradition normally managed in Biak, Papua. The people carry on an interesting activity involving both men and women together. The marine tradition has been preserved by the society and has also been performed during Biak Munara Wampasi Festival. Take a look at the details below.

West Papua
Sumber : Uzone

The Process of Snap Mor

Snap Mor is a fishing tradition known in Biak, Papua. “Snap Mor” is literally derived from two words which have similar meaning. In Biak local language, “snap” means “coral or rock.” It is like the expense of tiny rocks at river, stream, canal, or seashore. 

Meanwhile, “mor” is defined as piles of coral purposedly set together. The shape is normally round and the size varies from small, medium to big. The word “mor” also means “nyan” in Biak language or “way” where big round corals are piled up to be one. 

Snap Mor is best conducted during the “dead moon.” It is a condition when the moon is not full normally between March to August where the low tide occurs longer from day to night. However, the traditional fishing activity can also be done in other months, but it can only be done at night as the water will usually recede at this rate. 

For the people of Biak, Snap Mor is usually started with a prior preparation. They survey the location, the best time for fishing, and the tidal wave. Ideally, the best spot is a shallow area location surrounded by low tidal waves signaled by the east wind and high rainfall. They prepare nets, boats, and spears or “kalawai” to be used in the process. They also determine how many people will participate in the activity because they sometimes do not only involve people from the same area but also those from other areas.

Before conducting Snap Mor, a local elderly figure will lead to carry out a tribal ritual. It is started with burning the leaves of coconut and installing gas-fueled lamps to enlighten the process. The people gather in circle and the ritual leader guides to pray for the success and safety of the activity. After that, people, both men and women, will go fishing together.


The Significance of Snap Mor for Biak People

Generally, the significance of Snap Mor for the people of Biak has not yet changed much. Here are the social and cooperation functions described as follows.

Social Function

Snap Mor is functioned to establish a social value as the process involves everyone without considering boundaries. From the beginning of planning to fishing activity of Snap Mor, it all involves everyone from elderly people to children for both men and women. During the series of activities, social process occurs because many people who have been busy with daily job can meet in the event.

Cooperation Function

The traditional fishing tradition can also set a cooperation function. It is all managed through a teamwork between men and women, between the elderly and the youth. It aligns with the word “mor” itself in which a place where corals and sea stones in various sizes meet. 


The Preservation of Snap Mor

To preserve Snap Mor as the fishing tradition and maritime culture of Biak people, it has been maintained. The activity is managed by every village almost every year by the local people. For them, it is more than catching fish but a philosophy of togetherness, fair play, and well-maintained social value.

The local government also contribute in the preservation as they have held Biak Munara Wampasi Festival or popularly called BMW Festival since 2012. It is held offering numerous fascinating cultural events, like Pancar Dance, Apen Bayeren, and Snap Mor beautified by the sound of a thousand tifa, the traditional musical instruments, and the Wairon ship. It has been now held annually since 2018 highlighted on top Biak tourism agenda.

The preservation of Snap Mor will still be held by the local people as well as through the annual festival, so it can be passed through generations. Hopefully the fishing tradition will be well-maintained as the culture beauty in Papua and West Papua.