Fifteen New Matailis to Guard Tuvalu’s Fishery Resource

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Fifteen young men have completed the 2nd National Fishery Observer Training and were awarded with certificates at the graduation ceremony held on Friday afternoon May 29, at the Vaiaku Lagi Hotel.

The new fisheries observers had undergone an intensive training in the past five weeks.

Minister of Fisheries Honourable Elisala Piita congratulated the trainers, trainees and the supporting team for a job well done in carrying out this in-country training for local observers, before closing the training and presenting the certificates.

imageIn his closing and congratulatory remarks, Hon Piita touched on the significance of the programme to Tuvalu. “Observers programme is extremely important for Tuvalu. It is at the heart of the way we monitor the activities of industrial tuna fishing vessels, both inside and outside our fishery waters, and to check on the compliance of those vessels with our laws and regulations.”

“The programme gathers data on fish catches and fish stocks which are used to ensure that fishing is kept at a sustainable levels, and over fishing does not occur.”

Piita said the goal of the programme was to increase the number of local observers to serve on fishing vessels. “Our goal is to increase the size of our observer programme – not only to create employment opportunities but also to provide the technical skills that will be needed for the management and monitoring of our coastal fisheries,” says Piita.

Honourable Piita urges Tuvaluan Observers to take this opportunity seriously, and to carry out their duties and responsibilities conscientiously. He also reminds them that they are ambassadors of Tuvalu, therefore he hopes and expects good conduct from all of them for a positive image of Tuvalu and to make them marketable to fishing vessels in the region for a growth in job opportunities and benefits to our country.

At the graduation ceremony, Director of Fisheries Samasoni Finikaso put emphasis on the new observers as Matailis. He said a Mataili was a woven hat made out of coconut leaves to shield the eyes and make it easier for local fishermen to see new grounds and schools of fish.

“I want to relate what is actually happening right now to the context of Tuvalu. The word Mataili is a Tuvaluan word for a hat made up of coconut leaves and is worn by very skilful fishermen and local navigators to make it easier to locate schools of fish and search for new lands,” Finikaso said. “A ‘Mataili’ was normally worn in the past by our ancestors to improve a person’s eye sight when they scoped far and wide to see schools of fish or the enemies in advance, so that they could prepare them-selves for battle,” he added.

Finikaso said the ceremony proved that the new observers have woven 15 new Matailis for Tuvalu. Now you are ready to set sails for new fishing grounds but always remember that you are the “Matailis” for Tuvalu. Coordinator of the SPC Ob-server Programme Training Siosifa Fukofuka also congratulated the graduates for successfully completing the training. Hon Pita and Mr Finikaso also acknowledged with appreciation the big job done by the Mr Fukofuka in training the new fifteen local observers. The graduation ceremony was rounded off with refreshments provided by the Fisheries department.

By Famomoi Niukena | Reprinted with permission from Fenui – News from Tuvalu – June 1, 2015 Issue.

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