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Bras-Panon (Municipality, Reunion, France)

Last modified: 2017-04-16 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Bras-Panon]

Flag of Bras-Panon - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 24 January 2009


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Presentation of Bras-Panon

The municipality of Bras-Panon (11,865 inhabitants; 8,855 ha; municipal website) is located on the eastern side of the island. Stretching out from the seashore to the mountains, Bras-Panon is self-styled the ville jardin (garden town).

In 1736, François Garnier and consorts required a boundary marking from the Higher Council of Isle Bourbon (the name of Reunion at that time). Commissioned by the Council to mark the territory located at the confluency of two ravines, Joseph Panon fell down on the bank of a ravine and broke his arm, in French, bras. The ravine was named "Bras-à-Panon" or "Bras-Panon", a name which was reused for the new municipality established there by Decree of President of the Republic Jules Grévy on 24 February 1882; population of the municipality was then 2,587.
Paul Moreau, Mayor of Bras-Panon for 36 years (1959-1995) and Senator (1987-1995) founded in 1951 the Cooperative of the Producers of Natural Vanilla; he organized the first vanilla trade fair of Bras- Panon in 1969 in the yard of the cooperative. From a small event involving 10 merchants visited by 10,000 for three days, the fair increased to the main vanilla and agriculture event of the island, with 200 merchants visited by 200,000 for ten days.

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 9 February 2009


Flag of Bras-Panon

The flag of Bras-Panon, hoisted in front of the Town Hall, is white with the municipal emblem.

The most characteristic element of the municipal emblem is the small fish locally called bichique (indeed a Madagascan name; in Creole, bisik). Known under the Latin name Sicyopterus lagocephalus Pallas, the bichique is common in most warm waters all around the word. The fish is known in English as "rabbithead cling-goby" (Australia) and "red-tailed goby" (Sri Lanka).
A small fish (c. 10 cm) , the bichique "climbs" the rivers upstream, using its ventral sucker to "climb" cascades. Found up to 1,000 m asl, the bichique lay 50,000-70,000 eggs upstream in January-June; the larvae are then carried away downstream to the ocean. At the October full moon, the alevins, measuring c. 3 cm, gather at the mouth of the rivers to "climb" upstrram. Bichique is mostly fished on the eastern windward side of the island, during rain events, especially in the Rivi¸re des Roches (Rock's River), located at Bras-Panon. The mouth of the rivers is divided by the fishers in a set of canals completely blocked by conic nets locally called vouves (another Madagascan word), once made of vegetal fibers and more and more often made of nylon framed on metal.
The main component of the cari bishik, bichiques are highly prized, up to 30-50 € per kg (therefore the nickname of "Reunion caviar"). The proverb poison i manz bisik (in French, le poisson mange la bichique, "the fish eats bichique") means "might is right".

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 9 February 2009