My Name is Nathalia Lawen and I am presently on Silhouette Island with Island Conservation Society (ICS) for the Prosperity and environment: promoting sustainable development opportunities for youth in the Blue Economy sector internship. I am with my sister (another intern) Alvania Lawen and Teesha Baboorun who is the ICS Critical Eco System Partnership fund (CEPF) project leader is our mentor for this week.
Out at Sea!
As it is routine for the ICS workers I had to accompany the fishermen for their fish catch. The fish catch takes place every two days where fishermen collect fish traps for the Island Development Company (IDC). I had the privilege of accompanying them on my first day! After approximately 25 minutes of movement we were finally 2km (approximately) away from Silhouette (approximately 1km away from the marine park). When we got there we roamed around trying to find the buoys that indicated that the fish traps were below the surface of the sea. It took us a while before finding the fish traps but after about 10 minutes we finally saw our first buoy and the fishermen immediately pulled the fish trap out of the water and placed it across the boat. I was responsible for marking the GPS points at which the fishermen deposited their empty traps. So after the fishermen had removed all the fish including this red spiky fish called lion fish (laf) which is said to be deadly, they filled the traps with copra again, tied the trap shut and released it into the deep, royal blue waters and I, being the only girl on board marked the GPS point, this was the first time I had ever used a GPS, I felt so professional (giggles). We repeated this same process four more times until, at one point we were closer to North Island than Silhouette.
After having collected fish from all five traps, we headed back to silhouette. As we approached shore Alvania and Teesha were already on the beach waiting with their data entry forms, balance and measuring tape to record the fish caught. When on shore we carried wooden platforms to place the fish on. While Teesha weighed the fish, Alvania measured the fork length and I recorded the data. After this we proceeded towards the ICS office for data entry. The whole experience was unforgettable mainly because it was my first time this far at sea in a small, fiberglass boat opposing Vigorous backwashes. What I found interesting about the trip is that the fishermen throw out the by catch back into sea (still alive). They have said that there is no use in keeping the small fish so they’d rather let it grow out of their juvenile self.