Fisherman contribute to the economy

Members of the Kadavu Fishermen Association at an exchange program with the Ra Fishermen at Vitawa village in Ra last week. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

GONE are the days when men would go out fishing for their family meals only.

Nowadays, fishing is one of the main sources of income for many families, particularly, those on the maritime islands.

Money earned from fishing for many years has enabled family elders to provide for their family, send their children to school and foot family bills.

The Kadavu Fishermen’s Association is a testimony to this as members have an interesting story to reveal regarding their love for fishing and how fishing, which was just a hobby from their young days have turned out to be the main income earner for a majority of them.

The association was established in 2013, consisting of 51 schemes and 351 registered members from around the country.

Each fisherman pays $6.40 to renew his fishing licence annually and $30 is deducted directly for the association every week to help in the smooth running of the association. But the bulk of the earnings go to the fishermen.

Timoci Raibiriki, the association president said they could proudly say that they contributed a lot as well to the Fijian economy because their main catch was yellowfin tuna and about four companies purchase from them every week on the island.

Last year alone, the association earned $101,605 from the sale of 16 tonnes of yellowfin tuna alone.

This was apart from $115,000 earned from the sale of 23 tonnes of other fish species.

The yellowfin tuna was sold at $7 per kilogram.

“I can proudly say that we contribute a lot to the Fijian economy because fishing is very much an integral part of the business in Fiji,” Mr Raibiriki said.

“These licensed fishermen are the main arms of business for our association and they are the main ones who go out fishing and sell them to the market.

“We do earn good money from fishing and most of us have been able to provide for our families and even contribute to the church and the vanua.”

Mr Raibiriki said they worked closely with the Ministry of Fisheries as they are licensed fishermen and it was important for them to get advice and tips from ministry officials.

Last year, the government supplied them with a boat, an outboard engine, and a fish slicer.

Mr Raibiriki said most of these fishermen are also yaqona farmers while at times they would sell root crops like dalo when the need arises.

He added that most of them have grown up in the village and there was no need for them to find good jobs or look for employment in urban areas because they earn money from their natural surroundings.

About 15 fishermen represented the association at an exchange program facilitated by Conservation International in Ra last week.

The program also allowed them and fishermen from Ra to exchange ideas of fishing and how they could improve their fishing methods without destroying the marine ecosystem.

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