By Sera Tikotikovatu-Sefeti
The island nation of Fiji is surrounded by the ocean, so it’s only natural that the ocean plays a large role in people’s daily lives. Yet, the country faces significant effects of climate change with devastating implications for those in the country’s fishing community.
On the outskirts of Nasinu in the central division of Viti Levu in Fiji, long time fishermen Iqbal Shah and his nephew Shahadat Ali share their passion for fishing but say it has been significantly disrupted by changing weather patterns and ocean warming.
Seventy-two-year-old retired fisherman Shah said, “We used to catch about 300 kg, 200 kg, in one week we used to catch 300 to 400 kg, sometimes 500 kg, but now if you fish one week, you can’t hardly get about 100kg, it is very hard.”
His 35-year-old nephew, Ali, shares the same sentiment.
“Today, going fishing is not like before,” he said. “The weather is really bad and we take a raincoat out to sea because it could rain at any moment, despite [what looks like] good weather.”
The pair come from a long line of fishermen and started fishing in their teens. They both learnt to fish from their fathers and are disappointed at how the changing weather patterns are disrupting their love for fishing.
Iqbal’s nephew Ali recalls how in the past, when a small fish was caught in their net, they put it back in the ocean. Today, he says, they keep any fish they catch.
“Times are hard, it’s a struggle,” he said.
As Ali took us on a tour at the back of his house, he explained how the rising sea level and weather patterns are affecting him directly.
“Maybe in another two or three years’ time, I might have to move my house up some more,” Ali said.