The Chinese fishing nets or Cheena vala of Kochi are believed to be Chinese in origin. Having been an important spice trading centre and having attracted traders from all over the world, it is probable the Chinese who had come here to trade, had introduced it.
These 10 metre structures are fixed to the land. Huge bamboo or teak poles that act as a cantilever support a horizontal net of 20 metres wide or more on one side and on the other, a counterweight of small rocks suspended from ropes.
Each net is operated by a team of about 6 fishermen. One of them walks across the main beam just enough to submerge the net into the sea. The net is left for a few minutes and then raised by pulling on the ropes. As the net is raised, the stones act as a counterweight by resting on the platform one at a time, thereby providing balance to the whole system.
Despite its size, each catch is not much due to the large stretch of nets alongside each other on the coast. These Chinese fishing nets have becoming more popular as a piece of tourist attraction than its actual purpose of fishing. Vasco da Gama Square is the ideal place to sit back, enjoy local fare and watch the nets being lowered.