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This project was supported by the FAO South Pacific Aquaculture Development Project (Phase II), the Fisheries Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests, Government of Fiji, and the New Zealand Foundation of Research, Science and Technology (Contract C08607).

The authors wish to thank Mr Hideyuki Tanaka (FAO) and Mr Esaroma Ledua (MAFF) for providing their support, Mr Penisoni Usumaki (FTIB) for acting as the catalyst for the project, Dr Richard Furneaux and colleagues (Industrial Research Ltd, NZ) and Kadoya & Co. Ltd for carrying out phycocolloid-quality tests, Mr Gerald Billings (MAFF) for his assistance with field work, Satya Nand Lal and staff at Naduruloulou Aquaculture Research Station (MAFF) for use of facilities, Dilo Bunoa, Eroni, Mata and residents of Dromuna Village for their hospitality and assistance with field work, people of Navulivatu Settlement in Serua, and Prof. Hirotoshi Yamamoto (Faculty of Fisheries, Hokkaido University, Japan), Prof. GR South and Dr Antoine N'Yeurt (Marine Studies Programme, The University of the South Pacific) for assistance with seaweed nomenclature.

(Left to right); Eroni, Mata, Dilo and Sam Mario at Kaba Peninsula, 1 February 1995.

Islanders strike it rich in Suva


YASAWA islanders are making good money travelling weekly by boat and then bus to get all the way to Suva to sell seafood.

LUSIANA Vulavou, 67, of Teci, Yasawa, front, and Mere Namalua, 52, of Gunu Village, Yasawa, sell seafood at Suva Market on Saturday. -Picture: YAD SINGH.

“I make about $200 a week from selling nama (seaweed) and ika vesa (smoked fish),” said Mere Namalua, 52, of Gunu Village, on Naviti.

Lusiana Vulavou, 67, from Teci, made $55 on Saturday alone from selling vasua (clam meat) and cawaki (a sea-shell).

Ms Namalua said she travelled on the Adi Vaulina, a small fishing boat, from Naviti to Lautoka before catching a minibus across Viti Levu to Suva.

“We left on the Adi Vaulina at 6am on Thursday morning, arriving in Lautoka at 1.30pm. The fare was $5 one way,” she said.

“We then left Lautoka at 4.30pm, arriving in Suva at 7pm, on a minibus. The fare was $10 one way.”

She said she brought five big bags of nama, which she and her family dived for off Naviti, and one big bag of ika vesa.

She slept overnight beside her produce on Thursday night outside the southern end of Suva Market.

The nama sold quickly at $2 a heap.

By Saturday morning, she was down to four piles.

Ms Namalua, who has 10 children, makes enough money to support her youngest who is attending secondary school, in Lautoka.

She said the sales paid for the school fees and other school expenses.

Ms Namalua said selling seafood in Suva was a lot easier than in Lautoka.

“Even though it's a lot farther, the produce sells very quickly here because the demand is there and there are more people,” she said.

“I enjoy the travelling back and forth, taking a break from the small island life to see the hundreds of people in Suva.

“But I'm even happier because I'm making good money every week,” she said.

Ms Vulavou, who now lives in Vio, Lautoka, dives for her own clams off Lautoka a day before they bring them into Suva.

“We dived yesterday (Friday) and brought them in early this morning to sell them while they are still fresh,” Ms Vulavou said.

“We come with six bucketsful each of vasua and sell them all by Saturday afternoon. I came with just two buckets this week though.

“Most of these people selling vasua here are middlemen who buy them from us for $5 a string, splitting it in two, before selling it for $5 a string.

“We left at 1am today arriving in time at 5am to set up.

“We keep the vasua in clean buckets and get fresh seawater from the ocean after we get in to keep them fresh all day,” she said.

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