Fish appears on tables in Fiji homes cooked in different ways – boiled, fried, grilled or baked in an earth oven – it’s simply delicious. And if you’re a visitor to Fiji, you’re bound to eat fish – lots of it. Fiji has a wide variety of seafood and fish for your dining pleasure. Tuna and marlin are in abundance in the 274,000 square miles of Fiji’s deep sea water. Lobster, crabs, prawns and hoards of exotic fish live amongst the reefs that cling to the many islands. Any snorkelling trip will prove this.
If your hotel or resort happens to be near a Fijian village, you’ll be interested in the variety of Fijian fishing methods. Spear fishing with a long bamboo pole, line and net fishing are the most common methods. But there are other traditional methods that are a joy to watch if you get the chance.
One such method is known as yavirau which is actually a fish-drive in which a group of people take part. Preparations begin a couple of days before the drive, with everyone helping to twist jungle vines into a thick rope long enough to encircle up to a kilometre of reef. Bunches of leaves are attached to the rope at two-metre intervals and coconut fronds are wrapped around its entire length.
Just before the high tide begins to ebb, the home-spun rope is taken by punt and thrown out into a huge circle. The people, usually people from a particular village, position themselves around the circle and begin to move towards a central point, pushing the vine and its trailing coconut fronds before them.
As the tide ebbs to its lowest point, hundreds of captive fish are exposed in shallow pools. This is the high point of the fish-drive with everybody shouting at once and the fish churning the water until it resembles a burning cauldron. Then the villagers begin spearing the catch with home-made harpoons and sharpened sticks.
This traditional method of catching fish enabled ancestral Fijians to reap their sea harvest, and even today it’s still a very effective way of stocking up for the whole village.
Many coastal island resorts organise fish-drives in which guests can take part.
Another traditional method is by using catching pools.
These are large stones arranged in a circle in the reef so that fish can make a home in the cracks. At high tide, these stone circles are submerged beneath the water, and as the tide retreats, the fish become stranded in the pools and are then easily picked out by the village...