Invisible Force in Fisheries
World Fisheries Day is celebrated annually on November 21 to raise awareness on the importance of protecting the world’s fisheries and to seek solutions to problems such as overfishing, pollution, mismanagement of natural resources among others.
The theme this year ‘Celebrating Women and Youth in Fisheries Conservation’ acknowledges the crucial role the two segments of the population can potentially contribute towards the sustainable management of fisheries resources.
Women and youths dominate subsistence fisheries that provide food security for thousands of Pacific islanders, playing a vital role in the proper functioning of these societies.
However they are often considered invisible, with their efforts not well reflected in national accounts. They are also not well integrated into the decision making processes that affect resource management although they are heavily involved in sustainable fisheries and their knowledge can augment modern science to provide the basis for effective resource management.
Sustainable Coastal Resource Use Management Co-ordinator Akisi Bolabola said: “It’s a timely theme because recognition is given to women and youth who have contributed a lot to community conservation, ensuring there is sustainability in terms of subsistence livelihood and income generation.”
WWF South Pacific joined the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests, and other conservation NGO’s in the march and the setup of displays of fisheries projects at the Suva Foreshore grounds, next to the Suva Bowling Club.
In launching World Fisheries Day, Minister for Youth and Sport Commander Viliame Naupoto said that women are natural conservationists and in being so perform a selfless act of conserving natural resources that can be enjoyed by future generations.
Ceremonies featured women and youth running fisheries projects around the country including fish farms and value adding of fisheries products.
WWF South Pacific Fisheries Policy Officer Seremaia Tuqiri said: “The experiences shared by representatives from the youth groups and women’s organisations showed the potential and their ability to be able to develop and sustainably manage their resources and they should be given all the encouragement and support.”
Nukubalavu village women deploy spat collectors into the Savusavu Bay in Cakaudrove province, to collect baby oysters that they sell to the country’s largest pearl farmer, J Hunter Pearls for farming.
Group leader Vasemaca Balolo and a team of youth from Vunisei settlement, also in Savusavu, shared their experiences with working with this fisheries resource.
Women of Mau in the province of Namosi convert seaweed grown in the village lagoon into jams and a juice that acts as a detoxifying agent. This value adding process allows them to fetch a higher income compared to simply selling dried seaweed.
At Dakuivuni village in Tailevu province, women farm tilapia, a freshwater fish locally known as malea.
Latileta Kulavere summed up the common thread of appreciation women have for fisheries.
“Na noda maroroya ga na yau bula na nodra maroroi keda (when we look after our natural resources they look after us)” she said.
“Keitou sa vakadinadinataka na marama e Dakuivuna ni keitou sa maroroya tu oqo na Yaubula sa vurevure ni lavo vei keitou (we have witnessed that when we protect our natural resources it has become a source of income for us),” she added.
“So na gauna eda dau raica ni dau vakawainimatetaki tu na waitui kei na waidranu, sa kerekere ga meda maroroya baleta ni da raica noda maroroya ga ena maroroi keda baleta o ira qo era ka bula (Some use toxic substance in rivers and oceans that kill marine life and fail to realise that these natural resources are also living things. When we look after them they will look after us).”
A photo journal on WWF South Pacific's facebook page provides a more comprehensive view of the march.
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