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Vietnamese fisherwomen rake in big bucks with local sea worms

Saturday, December 07, 2019, 09:40 GMT+7
Vietnamese fisherwomen rake in big bucks with local sea worms
A basket of sa sung caught on the Chuong Xa tidal flat in Van Don District, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Quang The / Tuoi Tre

‘Sa sung,’ a common species of sea worm in several Vietnamese coastal provinces, have been the primary source of income for fisherwomen in the northern province of Quang Ninh for a long time.

Known in English as peanut worms, sa sung were first cataloged in 1827 by a French zoologist. 

So far, over 140 different species of peanut worm have been discovered around the world, with some measuring as short as two millimeters and others as long as 70 centimeters.

In Vietnam, sa sung are raked from the sand by fisherwomen working the tidal flats in Van Don District and Mong Cai City in Quang Ninh, in the south-central province of Nha Trang, as well as on Con Dao Island in the southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau.

According to Pham Van Hoc, chairman of the Farmer Association in Dong Xa Commune in Van Don District, sa sung have been a popular source of income in the district for several generations, valued primarily for the intense flavor they add to soups, stocks, and broths.  

Most notably, they are a common ingredient in 'pho,' Vietnam's famed beef noodle dish,throughout the northern region.

Sa sung caught on the Chuong Xa tidal flat in Van Don District, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Quang The / Tuoi Tre
Sa sung caught on the Chuong Xa tidal flat in Van Don District, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Quang The / Tuoi Tre

According to Hoc, a kilogram of sa sung sells for VND3-4.5 million (US$130-195) per kilogram, earning them the nickname 'pure gold' in Quang Ninh.

The majority of those who spend their days raking in sa sung are women, many of whom have been doing so for decades.

Nguyen Thi Toan, a 40-year-old woman in Dong Xa Commune, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that she has been catching sa sung for so long that she has no idea what she’d do next if she was forced to find another job.

Ly Thi Phuong, a woman from Van Don District who also makes a living raking in sea worms in Dong Xa Commune, shared that the job has become a common career choice in the district.

“Catching sa sung is basically the fate of people in Van Don,” Phuong told Tuoi Tre

“Every day I look forward to heading to the tidal flat to catch sa sung."

"I’d be very sad if I couldn’t go, even if it was just for one day."

Women catch sa sung on the Chuong Xa tidal flat in Van Don District, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Quang The / Tuoi Tre
Women catch sa sung on the Chuong Xa tidal flat in Van Don District, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Quang The / Tuoi Tre
A woman catches sa sung on the Chuong Xa tidal flat in Van Don District, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Quang The / Tuoi Tre
A woman catches sa sung on the Chuong Xa tidal flat in Van Don District, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Quang The / Tuoi Tre
Women catch sa sung on the Chuong Xa tidal flat in Van Don District, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Quang The / Tuoi Tre
Women catch sa sung on the Chuong Xa tidal flat in Van Don District, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Quang The / Tuoi Tre
A basket of sa sung caught on the Chuong Xa tidal flat in Van Don District, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Quang The / Tuoi Tre
A basket of sa sung caught on the Chuong Xa tidal flat in Van Don District, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Quang The / Tuoi Tre

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