Ocean warmth, seaweed scarcity threaten Fiji’s fisherwomen’s livelihoods | Inquirer News

Ocean warmth, seaweed scarcity threaten Fiji’s fisherwomen’s livelihoods

/ 03:52 PM August 09, 2022
Ocean warmth, seaweed scarcity threaten Fiji’s fisherwomen’s livelihoods

Villagers harvest edible seaweed, sea snails and other food sources during low tide next to Serua Village, Fiji, July 14, 2022. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

SUVA, Fiji — Karen Vusisa has been struggling to find a decent catch of a favorite Fijian edible seaweed, amid concerns that ocean temperatures have hit harvests and are threatening livelihoods of fisherwomen like her.

Like many others, Vusisa, 52, is managing to collect only about half as much of the seaweed, nama, as she once did. She must hunt for it over wider areas, spending more time at sea.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We are struggling to find some spot for a lot of nama,” Sera Baleisasa, another Fijian fisherwoman, told Reuters.

Nama, found mostly in the waters off Fiji, resembles small green grapes. It is part of the Pacific island nation’s daily diet and usually served soaked in coconut milk and added to salads.

FEATURED STORIES

It is also crucial for the livelihoods of hundreds of fisherwomen, who earn about $10 to $20 for a bag weighing 10 kg (22 lb.).

When harvesting, they leave the seaweed’s roots intact to help with regrowth, then move on to collect at a regenerated patch. But for the past several years, they say, nama has been taking longer to grow back.

Marine biologist Alani Tuivucilevu blames warmer oceans for impairing growth of nama, which she says is “very sensitive to heat.”

“It’s saddening, really; it’s saddening, because this has been their way of life,” said Tuivucilevu, who works with research group Women in Fisheries Network Fiji. “Depletion of nama supply means eroding of a way of life and, to a certain degree, of culture and traditions.”

Reports by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showed that 2021 was the warmest year for the world’s oceans since records began in the late 1800s.

Climate scientists have been warning that Pacific island countries are more vulnerable to climate change due to their reliance on the ocean for resources.

RELATED STORIES

ADVERTISEMENT

Fiji says climate change, not conflict, is Asia’s biggest security threat

World running ‘out of time’ to save island nations like Fiji, Maldives — climate expert

UN leader travels to Pacific to see climate change firsthand

White House welcomes Fiji to its Indo-Pacific economic plan

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Fiji, Global warming, oceans, seaweed
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter



© Copyright 1997-2022 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.