As part of his Masters Degree at University of the South Pacific, Dave Yeeting Junior is undertaking studying changes in fish catch in the Dawasamu District of Tailevu Province within the Vatu-i-Ra Seascape.

The Dawasamu District is known as a traditional fishing area or qoliqoli that is approximately 100km2 and includes a variety of oceanographic features, habitats, and coral reef systems. Along the coastline there are small exposed reef systems including Cakautolutolu, Navacakaudogo, Cakaunawai, and Vatuwaqa. This near-shore area also includes four tabu areas. Moving offshore there some small patch reefs including Tagitoacala, Cakaunikarakara, and Nasalisali. In the most distant parts of the qoliqoli are reefs that are part of the Vatu-i-Ra reef system including Natukuwalai, Naicacanibuka, Cakaumaicolo, Cakauniyaga, Namatara, and Cakaubasaga.

The most prominent and largest reef system within the qoliqoli however is Makalati (also known as Moon Reef) which is centrally located within the local fishing boundaries. The Dawasamu district encompasses Qoma Island as well as the following nine villages: Driti, Delakado, Luvunavuaka, Delasui, Natadrave, Nabualau, Nataleira, Silana, and Nasinu. The last three villages in this list are all located on the coast and are the main focal community areas where most of my work is currently concentrated as a representation of the whole of the Dawasamu District.

An interesting finding from Yeeting’s research indicates that almost 70% of fishers were women. The remaining 30% of men would fish only for occasions like community feasts and gathering took place. Women therefore play a pivotal and undervalued role in fisheries.

Currently Yeeting is working on completing his field work which involves collecting Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) data which he does in collaboration with fisherman from the villages of Nataleira, Silana, and Nasinu to understand the abundance of different species of fish within their qoliqoli

Through this research Yeeting is hoping to better record fishing site locations, time spent fishing, number of fishermen, gear used and the main species caught (including lengths and weights also). He hopes the data he collects will help the community as a whole understand how well their fisheries are doing, and support the effective management of fisheries resources through sustainable harvesting fishing practices. Sustainable fishing is critical to coastal communities’ food security and ensuring that the benefits continue to the next generation.