Island News

Fisher Grateful, Chiefs Permit Fishing

The Bua native doesn’t go fishing to escape life but goes out fishing to live his life.
15 Mar 2020 13:37
Fisher Grateful, Chiefs Permit Fishing
Niumea Sakealevu at the Lautoka Fisheries Wharf on March 12, 2020. Photo: Salote Qalubau

Offshore islands in the Yasawa Group have offered great fishing grounds for Niumea Sakealevu to earn a livelihood for his family.

Having been a fisher since a teenager, he knows the top spots in the area and on the western coast of Vitogo to haul in a good day’s catch when plying his trade.

He said these spots were his and most other fishers’ destination when out at sea because the underwater ecosystem around the islands hosted a huge variety of species that made fishing trips a good day’s work.

Originally from Galoa in Bua, he is grateful to chiefs of Waya and Naviti islands who have given him permission to use their fishing grounds.

“I have to seek the blessing and permission of chiefs to fish in their waters,” he said.

“Apart from my fishing licence, I have a boat captain restricted Class Six licence. My ordinary fishing licence allows me to fish where I want to fish, but my boat captain’s licence permits me, after seeking permission, to fish in Waya, Naviti, and Vanua Levu or further away from Lautoka.”

The 58-year-old attributes his passion and knowledge of fishing to his father, who started taking him out to sea when he was a 16-year-old.

“Now I’m a fulltime fisherman and my dad taught me the techniques of fishing and imparted knowledge of reading the weather situations when out at sea,” he said.

“Fishing is another source of employment and is food security, especially for school dropouts.”

Life was not easy when he used to work as a casual employee with the Fiji Sugar Corporation.

“To make ends meet, I fish twice a week at night. Once all expenses are deducted, I earn $200 or less,” he said.

His catch includes donu, kawakawa, saqa (trevally) sula, silasila, walu and other species depending on the season.”

“Today (yesterday’s) catch was from along the border of the Vitogo fishing grounds and sometimes I fish at Naviti. I fish around 3pm depending on the tides,” he said.

“A fisherman requires efficient financial management like setting aside funds for the next trip.”

The only obstacle he faces is when there aren’t many buyers. When sales are low, he charges $5 a bundle.

The fishing business assists his family cope with financial commitments.

Realising the unseen dangers lurking at sea he said: “This is an easy way to make a living, but we must always be careful with risks.

“Of course, I talk to myself (pray) when fishing, sometimes I need expert advice.”

The father of five children lives in Waiyavi, Lautoka.

“I never depend on my children because I know they’ve got their own families. But I love my grandchildren.”

The Bua native concluded saying he doesn’t go fishing to escape life but goes out fishing to live his life.

Edited by Percy Kean

Feedback: salote.qalubau@fijisun.com.fj


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