Living off the sea – Vusoya sells crabs and fish for a living

Makelesi Vusoya out and about with her punt doing what she does best in Noco, Rewa. Picture: UNAISI RATUBALAVU

She got married when she was only 16 years old and after all these years, the now 49-year-old says she didn’t see it as a disadvantage but a lesson of life.

Still going strong Makelesi Vusoya, now a grandmother, carries on with life as a widow skilful in fishing and catching crabs at the nearby mangrove swamp that helps her earn a living.

Ms Vusoya has never stopped, what she felt was one thing she enjoyed a lot, fishing and catching crabs.

Ever since she was a young girl growing up in a rural setting in Narocake in Noco, Rewa, she learnt to quickly adapt.

Back then making use of their natural surroundings to make a living was the sole purpose of life as a villager.

“This year in September I will be 50 years old. I only attended school up to Class 8 at Ratu Sauvoli Primary. When I was 16 years old I got married and have five children — four girls and a boy.

“At that time I was young and naive. When I look back, I only can thank the Lord for helping me get through the years and in every situation I faced challenges in.

“Even though my husband has passed on, I am able to look after myself and also help my children and grandchildren.

“Staying in the village and being a woman, you have to work extra hard.

“All my children are grown up now and have their own families and I have eight grandchildren now.”

Ms Vusoya was preparing to go out to fish and catch crabs when The Fiji Times caught up with her.

“I learnt how to catch crabs from one of my aunts. Before there were no nets so we used crab traps made by hand using reeds, stones and other materials to be placed in the mangroves. We also used these traps to catch fish.

“But now we have traps that are sold to catch crabs and different fishing nets to do our fish drive.” Last year she managed to get her own punt which cost her $900.

“I am paying the owner, a Fijian of Indian descent, for this boat. I’m paying in instalments so I can own it after I’ve paid it off.”

Ms Vusoya said ever since the COVID-19 pandemic her business of selling crabs and fish went up another notch.

“When I go to the market, it can sell out within two hours at the most. Before this pandemic it took me about five hours to sell my crabs and fish on a Saturday, but now it’s much faster.”

Ms Vusoya said she loved what she was doing because it kept her physically and mentally fit and helped her earn a living at the same time.

She said she could earn up to $200 every Saturday if she had a good catch from Monday to Friday.

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