Fishing grounds of Namakala village, Fiji Islands.
When Greenpeace crew members visited Saimone in his home village
of Namakala on July 12, he showed them the Ministry of Fisheries
and Forests license which grants him authority as an Honorary Fish
Saimone also explained the challenges of his job, describing how
the village has traditional practices intended to give fish time to
breed and recover.
"Our community has enforced a taboo or 'no-take' zone. But we
noticed that spearfishing divers are invading that area. They are
stealing from our no-take zone," Saimone explained.
"Early morning at about 2:30 am, I go patrol our fishing ground.
Since I don't have an outboard engine and a boat, I have to wait
for low tide. They [poachers] usually just run away when I call
Saimone took on his role because he was angered by poachers who
use methods such as poisoning to capture fish. He tried to stop
them, but "they always replied that they would only stop if I was a
fish warden," said Saimone, "So I asked my chief if I could become
"Now, I will be a fish warden until I die."
Local problem, global issue
The issues facing Saimone and his fellow villagers are local in
nature, but they are a microcosm of the greater fisheries issues
faced by the Pacific Island region -
pirate fishing and depletion of finite fish stocks.
The Rainbow Warrior has begun a ten-week Pacific fisheries tour,
named Our Oceans, Our Future, Our Choice. The tour kicked off on
July 10 as the Rainbow Warrior lay anchored in the port of Suva,
Fiji Islands. The goal is to work with Pacific island communities
to build protection for their fisheries.
Though the Western and Central Pacific Ocean is one of the
world's last healthy fisheries, it is increasingly falling prey to
distant water fishing nations and pirate fishing. Within 3-5 years
some stocks could be critically overfished.
The tour is all about meeting and listening to islanders. We'll
also share with them ideas and expertise on how to crack down on
pirate fishing, and get control of the fisheries that are legally
under their jurisdiction.
The Rainbow Warrior leaves Suva on Wednesday July 14 for
Kiribati. Her tour also includes the Republic of Marshall Islands,
the Federated States of Micronesia and the Solomon Islands.
You can read
more about Saimone at the voyage weblog.