Villagers on the island of Kia in Macuata say poachers are now well organised and getting smarter using sophisticated ways to evade getting caught.
Yaro Village Headman, Kemueli Lautiki says poachers who come to steal fish at night in their i-qoliqoli are well-equipped and well-resourced.
“They have networks. They have big outboard motor engines which we can’t afford. They use mobile phones and other advanced equipment that make it difficult for us to catch them.”
Sadly, Lautiki says, appointed village fisheries wardens do not have the necessary skills and tools to catch and reprimand those involved in this illegal activity.
“Our biggest need at the moment is to be well equipment, to have boats, lights, binoculars with night vision and anything else that can help us.”
The illegal diving and harvesting of certain fish species and marine life in the iqoliqoli is a grave concern for villagers.
They depend on the sea for survival, and the overfishing by poachers will heavily impact their livelihood.