Box 04- Female participant story on lack of policy awareness “I collect mud crab 3 times a week and sell from the roadside beside my village. Money earned is used to buy basic needs for my family and I am able to pay for bills.
My husband supports me by looking after our grandchildren and helping out with the household chores while I am out fishing. I have been catching crabs for about 15 years now ,and until today, had no idea about the policy that prohibits selling of under sized crabs. No Fisheries officer has ever visited my village to inform or show us what undersized crabs are, nor to discuss acquirement of a Fishing License and its importance.
Most of us do not have a fishing license We in the village only know about what is going on in the village. We only hear about policies and changes, politics etc but don’t really take notice of what is happening outside our village. One day, I was selling my days catch (3 bundles) when a Fisheries vehicle stopped by me.
The officer measured the crabs and told me they are undersize crabs. He confiscated all the bundles leaving me with nothing to sell and I did not get any money that day. I went home to my husband crying for my wasted time and energy used to catch the crabs. I would have earned about $80 on that day.
I am thankful to be part of this workshop as it has made me aware of many new things like changes and requirements happening outside my village, and especially the need to have a Fishing license and the size of crabs I can sell without getting into trouble. I look forward to learning and attending more of such trainings by WIFN “ Female participant Age 54 years
Male participant story on traditional fishing knowledge and skills “I started catching Mud crab from a very young age. I used to accompany elders from the village. We used traditional methods of fishing and only used our hands, men sometimes use a spear, and women used small nets (taraki) to catch crabs. We relied on the traditional/ natural Fijian seasonal calendar to know when to go fishing for Mud crab. Eg flowering of Reeds, wild plants bearing fruits, fruits trees and plants like pineapple and kavika ripening.
We would also watch the tides, listen to the winds and watch the direction of the winds. We would listen to certain sounds coming from the mangrove and river banks to indicate the right time to start fishing for Mud crab. I prefer mud crab fishing at night (Cina Qari) as I tend to catch more when they are sleeping and feeding. I also know and watch out for movement and feeding tracks of mud crabs.
These signs help me catch big and mature ones and avoid catching undersized crabs 15 I still use these traditional and natural signs to go fishing now but with modern crab nets. It saves a lot of time to know the right time to go in the water for me because it guarantees a good catch and catching the right size for selling. Now that I’m getting old, I have adopted some modern methods like using nets sold in the stores, I use waterproof torches which does not need a lot of maintenance instead of benzene light, and use a proper boat instead of bamboo raft. Now I am able I stay out of the water and avoid getting cold and sick.
I have purchased these items from income earned from Mud crab fishing. People doing mud crab fishing now are using nets and traps to increase their catch for selling. Most do not follow the seasons and have no idea at all about the right time to catch.
The demand for crab is increasing and the prices are better now so people are catching crabs more regularly using more than one net at a time, and are fishing during both low and high tide. We should learn to follow and use traditional methods of fishing especially for those living far from town.
Traditional methods also conserves supply of crabs if we know the right time to fish and materials are not harmful to small crabs and other species of fish. Conservation is important to enable restocking of Mud crab supply. We had stopped fishing (taboo) in a certain part of our traditional fishing ground (I Qoliqoli). Now we are catching very big size crabs and fish. All these knowledge and practices should be shared. Male participant Age 57 years