Tarusila Veibi is a conservationist with the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network (FLMMA) since 2008.
“My advice to young people: keep the ocean good, clean and healthy.” Tarusila Veibi has some excellent advice for future generations.
Ocean Witness Tarusila has every reason to smile: at 55 years of age, her commitment and drive to support conservation efforts at community level has taken a giant leap through her very first international participation at the United Nations Oceans conference. We spoke with her.
The ocean is very important for Fijians. What does the ocean mean to you?
The ocean means life to me; it’s a source of income and source of food security. To my family and to the community.
You are part of Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network (FLMMA), what does it mean to you to protect the ocean and to fish sustainably?
It means a lot, it means a lot to me. I used to advocate for this; the sustainable fishing methods. To the women, to my friends, actually to all the community members. Nowadays, most of the people in our community really abuse the ocean. I always advocate for the sustainable use of our ocean, for example in the media. Because it means a lot to us.
You are a wonderful family woman. How has the Fiji ocean changed between your youth and now?
It really has changed a lot. Probably due to climate change and abusive fishing. Our great-grandfathers and -mothers used to go out to the sea and within a short period they came back with plenty of fish. Nowadays people go out for almost one day with little catch; they come back with almost nothing. This indicates that it’s really changing: the environment, the population is increasing and there’s also a lot of excessive fishing.
And of course you want to change that.
Yes, I want to change that. At the moment, we have marine protected areas (MPA’s) in our community in Fiji. I think about 410 altogether in the fishing ground of Fiji.
“The ocean means life to me.”
What does the future look like for Fiji?
A good future, a bright future, a fruitful future for Fiji.
So Taru, you are here. A wonderful woman telling a story. What would your advice be to other women?
My advice to other women: keep the ocean good, clean, healthy and don’t throw rubbish into the ocean. It might suffocate the living organisms in the ocean. It’s not only for the women, this goes for men too. It’s mostly meant to young people; they are the ones that have the longest to live with the oceans. So my advice to them: keep the ocean save and clean.
Tarusila, originally from Lomanikoro in Bua, is a conservationist with the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network (FLMMA) since 2008. She’s the only woman who represents her district of Bua by being the voice of FLMMA. FLMMA is a charitable association of resource conservation NGOs, government departments, academic institutions and over 400 communities working together to promote and encourage the preservation, protection and sustainable use of marine resources in Fiji by the stewards of these marine resources.