Exciting times ahead for fishermen on the island of Nairai, in the Lomaiviti group after they received their own solar freezer from the Minister for Fisheries, Honorable Semi Koroilavesau in Natauloa Village.
Speaking to the representatives from the five villages in Nairai, Mr. Koroilavesau reminded them to stay focused and to continue working hard for their families as Fiji slowly transforms into the ‘new normal’.
“I understand that fishing is a source of livelihood for the island and with your new solar freezer, I am certain that you will be able to store your fish for a longer period while waiting for the buyers to come and buy here on the island or the vessel that will transport your catch to mainland,” said Mr. Koroilavesau.
“The solar freezer is a commitment that was made during the Lomaiviti Provincial Meeting last year and I am sure that now you will be able to enjoy it’s benefits for years to come,” said Mr. Koroilavesau.
Mata-ni-Tikina for Nairai, Mr. Malani Colati says that the solar freezer is indeed a blessing for the island.
“We are very grateful to Government especially the Ministry of Fisheries for the kind assistance. I am sure that every fishermen on this island joins me in thanking the ministry for the solar freezer. We will certainly utilize it and maintain it properly,” said Mr. Colati.
“We have around 100 fishermen on the island so we will be planning out a program whereby every one of them will be able to store their catch while awaiting it’s transportation to mainland,” added Mr. Colati.
The Nairai Fishermen’s Association have also been working closely with the Ministry of Fisheries in terms of capacity building.
“Ministry officials have conducted training here on the island for Deep Sea Fishing as well as Fish Wardens. We will also continue to strengthen our ties with the Ministry of Fisheries,” explained Mr. Colati.
“We are also aware of the various bans in place and understand that we also need to think of our children.
”This year alone, before COVID 19 restrictions came in into effect, the association managed to sell a total of 115 bundles of fish and collected close to $2,000.
“That was revenue collected from January to March. Now with the ease of restrictions on inter-island traveling, we are confident that we will earn more in the months ahead.”
The island have also declared some fishing grounds as Marine Protected Areas and have seen it’s benefits as well.“We are doing this to ensure that our future generation have a source of income as well as food security for many more years to come,” added Mr Colati.
The Ministry of Fisheries has handed out a total of nine solar freezers to communities in the Eastern, Central and Northern Divisions.