IT'S something they have treasured for decades and do not sell for profit.
For villagers of Wailevu outside Labasa Town, fresh seashells and fish found in their rivers are not used as a commodity to generate income for individuals but only for family consumption.
This has become a practice in the past and if any villager attempts to sell it, such delicacies become extinct .
According to Wailevu Village headman Levi Tukania, the river which is a mixture of fresh and seawater has become a source of life for them not only because it had been providing food for the families but it's also a rich food source for special occasions. "For us here, fish and seashells are basically for family consumption, and it is strictly followed for the purpose of maintaining these marine creatures in our rivers," Mr Tukania said.
"Some seashells like drivi which used to be found before have vanished because some villagers were selling it without the knowledge of elders. When this happens, it signifies that people are not following the trend in the vanua and we have to remind them again not to sell it." Every mid-year, usually near the sugarcane crushing season, Mr Tukania said villagers were always fortunate because it was when the salala (striped mackerel) was in abundant supply.
"They swim in schools, a time when villagers especially women and youths flock to the river or rally up on the bridge to fish not only in the day but also at night," he said.
"This is the time of the year where we feast and enjoy ourselves with abundant supply of salala and we are always grateful about it because we don't have to buy fish from the market." To supplement their catch, Mr Tukania said villagers sometimes travelled to the sea which was only a half hour ride away to collect more for their families.
"In this case, villagers can smoke, fry or grill their catch for consumption later.
We see this as a annual blessing and villagers have been reminded not to sell the fish or seashells in order for us and our generation following to enjoy the god-given resource."
Mr Tukania says villagers were regularly taking trips to the sea during high tide to collect seashells known as 'voce'.
"The seashells are nutritious and tasty and adults are taking their time to go out to the sea with their children to collect it for their meals. as they are becoming more aware of the benfits of fresh food supplies."