Share Button standard

Friday, November 25, 2005

Report from Fiji (2)

I met a young Indo-Fijian fisherman down at the beach at Nadi Bay this (early) morning. We went to buy fish as the fishers arrived back from their sojourn at sea at dawn. Between 6 and 7am is the best time to buy the fresh catch.
The young man we talked to was 31, a Fijian who had no idea which part of India his ancestors hailed from, so long ago had they come, or been transported, to Fiji. All of the fishers were Indo-Fijian. The “Fijians”, he told us, were only interested in having enough to eat and drinking kava or beer.
The fishers pay $12 a year for a license to fish from the Government but they have to pay $500 a year to the local Fijian people for the rights to fish in the sea around the islands where the fish are abundant.
Ironically, those same local people buy much of the catch of the fishers they charge to fish in ‘their’ waters. The young man we met had just returned from a three-day fishing expedition and he had already sold most of his fish to the people on the smaller off-shore islands.
He built his own boat after fishing for others for some years. He studied the design and the construction of the boats he worked on in order to work out how to build his own. As he said, he had no chance of getting a job in the tourist industry because he wasn’t an indigenous Fijian, and he did not have degrees or sufficient education to get a well-paying job elsewhere, so he went fishing.
This young fisherman was a thoroughly pleasant, intelligent and interesting human being, much like most of the other 6 billion of us.
Incidentally, tourism is by far the biggest income earner for Fiji. But the second biggest source of overseas earnings is remittances from troops serving overseas as peace-keepers. Fiji has joined other South Pacific island nations in becoming a remittance country. Remittances have increased by over 500% in the last 10 to 15 years to better all the earnings from clothing, textile, footwear, gold, fish and mineral water exports combined.

No comments: