Villagers urged to set up fishing committee

Minister for Fisheries Semi Korolavesau arrives at Ogea Village in Southern Lau on Tuesday. Picture: MELA KATONIVUALIKU

MINISTER for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau has requested villages in the Southern Lau group to set up their village fishing committees.

He made the request at Vatoa Village in Ono on Monday after he visited the village with other government officials.

Mr Koroilavesau said the village fishing committees would oversee the maintenance of the solar powered freezers and the fish aggregating device (FAD) that they would be distributing to villages in the next few weeks.

“We have 50 solar powered freezers to give to islands that have no ice plants and no free flowing fresh water so they are able to store their catch of fish until a buyer comes,” Mr Koroilavesau said.

“The FAD is a man-made device that attracts fish and it would be used so that villagers are only fishing in areas that have a FAD mounted on it.”

He said ministry officials would return in the next few weeks and train villagers on how to use the FADs.

Villagers of Vatoa also indicated their frustration after three local companies that were to travel with the ministry delegation to Southern Lau group withdrew at the last minute as villagers were eagerly waiting to sell their catch.

Vatoa villager Lemeki Bau, 62, also requested that fish buyers or companies that intended to buy their catch to come through the provincial council office and not directly to them as sometimes villagers were being exploited and ripped off with the price of fish. “Buyers should come through the provincial office so that a standard price is set at a price that is both known to us fishermen and the buyer. “Most times we are being exploited and ripped off,” Mr Bau said.

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