Name: Alifereti Tawake
Country: Fiji
Location: Daku, Kadavu

Alifereti grew up in the rural coastal village of Daku in Kadavu, a small outer island in Fiji. Growing up, he remembers his grandfather going out to the nearby reef and bringing home enough fish for his extended family in just a short time. Over the years, Alifereti noticed that his grandfather would go fishing for the whole night and come back with catches that were no longer enough to meet the family needs. During that time (late 1980s), others were experiencing similar hardships throughout Fiji; fishing activities had become very expensive and time-consuming. People preferred buying tinned meat rather than going out fishing. Alifereti began to wonder “what will happen 10-30 years from now if nothing is done to address the root cause of these hardships?” He wanted to learn ways to address the deterioration of his rural way of life. He became involved with the Fiji Locally-Managed Marine Area (FLMMA) Network, whose mission statement is “Everlasting Marine Resources for our Descendants.” After acting as coordinator of FLMMA for several years, Alifereti is now a Project Manager at the Institute of Applied Science at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji. He works to bring together community members, conservation practitioners, researchers, and government officials using participatory techniques to establish protected areas to help conserve dwindling marine resources. Alifereti hopes that through this work, the hardships and the traumatic experience that his family went through will become a thing of the past.

Photo by Toni Parras