$4k from Salted Fish

A staff member from Muanicake Fishing group with a salted fish. Picture: FT File

Fish is an important source of protein for Fijians. And while salted fish might not be popular in the iTaukei community, it had the potential to become a booming business.

A month’s fishing, which included salting and drying of fish, had netted the Muanicake Fishing group of Muanicake Village in the Lau Group a little over $4000, according to an article published by The Fiji Times on November 25,1977.

Backed by support and know how acquired from the Fisheries Department extension staff, the villagers fished, especially for mullet — a fish type most suitable for salting and of a very high demand in the market.

The villagers used punts and a set of veranda nets which were purchased through the government Rural Development Fund.

In August that year, two teams of fisheries personnel visited Fulaga and taught the villagers how to braid and use verandah nets to catch mullet.

They also taught them how to process and sundry salted fish.

Fulaga Island is an island in the Lau Group.

It offers very little land for planting and has very poor soil.

Rootcrops and vegetables are grown with difficulty.

Despite this hard environment, the people of Fulaga existed by exploiting the wealth from the sea and from the sale of handicrafts and copra.

Fulaga people are noted for their skills in craftsmenship. They are descendants of the “Tiafau” a carpenter clan of high repute during the olden days.

Commenting on the $1000 a week earning from salted mullet, Peni Vula, the village spokesman, said “We certainly could not achieve this within the same period from copra. We don’t want to be too excited about our success. We are now carefully planning our fishing program, care is being taken not to over exploit our marine resources.

” The Fulaga fishing communities hoped to continue catching and processing mullet until the end of the December so they could attend to other village projects.

When asked how they would use the money, Mr Vula said it would be used to improve water supply and housing damaged by Hurricane Bebe.

Mullet was the fish species recommended by the Fisheries Department for salting and sundrying.

It has low oil content and easily caught in schools using veranda nets.

It had a high market demand, selling from $1 to $1.80 a pound.

The salted fish keeps for at least six months and this Asian delicacy is particularly popular with South Indians.

More Stories