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Fishing Samoan Style

September 3, 2010

This summer I&M had the honor of interviewing Mr. Lilio, a matai (chief) from Fagasa village in American Samoa. He is an authority on the only traditional atule (Selar crumenophthalmus) harvest still practiced on Tutuila Island today. Other villages in the Manuʻa Island group of American Samoa use a similar strategy.

The entire village participates in this harvest ritual once every few years. For a period before the harvest a village-imposed fishing restriction is placed on the bay. When the time is right and the atule have come into the bay, the village men take coconut fronds into the water. The men form a semi-circle from the shore to about 100 yards into the ocean. They work together shaking the fronds in the water to corral the fish into traps near the shore. Once the harvest is complete, the fish are divided up equitably among the villagers. These traditional practices of harvesting fish handed down from generations past established a method for conserving the resource by forbidding fishing at certain times.

The entire village works together to harvest the fish in the bay on this special day

Mr. Lilio shared his perspective of the dwindling marine resources in his village, and the changes he has witnessed through the years. He emphasized the importance of conserving and respecting the marine resources as his forefathers had done. Traditional management of the resources may help ensure they will be available for the next generation. Let’s hope Fagasa’s next harvest is just as good.

After the communal fishing effort the atule catch is divided up among the villagers

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Annie permalink
    February 21, 2012 11:32 pm

    At least let your photos reflect the traditional harvest. That is not a picture from the traditional way of catching the Atule. We do not use the nets to catch the fish, so I feel that your pictures misconstrue the real, traditional way. There are no fronds which you mention.

  2. Annie permalink
    February 21, 2012 11:34 pm

    Also, your picture is not of Fagasa. I should know….not one of those people are from my village…

    • February 22, 2012 8:39 am

      You are correct. I don’t believe that is Fagasa. I do not have good photos of the atule harvest from Fagasa. The photos were meant to give the blog entry some context.

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