The Sepi women Inshore Fisheries Initiative comprises of 20 members from the Sepi Village, West Bugotu, Santa Ysabel.
This newly formed organisation is aimed at engaging in the fisheries sector - To fish, buy fish and sell fish in the open markets.
Speaking to Solomon Star last week, a member of group, Ms Edith Bako said before the establishment of the initiative, the women folks of the village were engaged in the fisheries businesses for a good number of years.
“Most of our engagements in the past were to slice fish stocks caught by men from the village and prepare them for storage.
“The belly is then used to feed our pigs and sometimes the fishermen gave us $30 for our work. But most of the time we are doing it for free,” Ms Bako said.
She said that they have been involving in the cold chain processing of the fish for a very long time.
However, they were not part of the commercial chain. Money taken from the fish are received by men and then used for household or other purposes.
“But with this new initiative, I think it will benefit us women where we will be part of the commercial chain of buying the fish from the fishermen, gut, prepare for storage and we resell the fish to fish buyers in Honiara or even here in the province.
“I believe with the establishment of the group it will benefit us women in many ways in buying our children’s school fees and our other family commitments,” Ms Bako said.
She added with this initiative it would be better if the provincial government and the national government through Ministry of Fisheries & Marine Resources (MFMR) assist Sepi women in whatever means of assistance.
This is especially in providing further trainings on how to gut and store fish and also provide them with the equipments for the actual work.
A Fishing Master in the Isabel region, Philip Mahiko said today the fishing industry needs women as they can play very important role in the fishing business.
“These women played a very important role in the fisheries sector with their work and therefore it will be very important to train them to help them understand the processes of fish gutting, and fish storage,” Mr Mahiko said.
He added fish gutting and processing is not an easy task, unlike other products that can be carelessly handled.
He explained fish have to be processed in the beginning when fished and right to the selling place.
“This is because the fish needs to be of top quality and fresh to be sold out in the markets and exported overseas,” Mr Mahiko said.
It is understood, the Sepi Womens Fisheries Intiative has pledged to be part of the commercial chain in the fishing industry. They will pay the fish, store the fish and re-sell to a supplier in Honiara. Snap Fish Solomons who runs the only Fish Shop in Honiara pledged to formalise an MOU with the Women to pay their fish.
These women have strongly supported the idea that women must meaningfully participate in the fishing industry.
Representative of the Snap Fish Solomons confirmed that arrangement is now underway to ensure their Women Initiative is supported as gender inclusiveness.
“It is part of the values upheld by the Snap Fish Solomons. Women are encourage to fully capitalise on the opportunities in the fishing industry,” the company’s officials said.
The Sepi Womens Inshore Fisheries Initiative will proceed to register their entity with the Isabel Provincial Government and continues to call for support in this endeavour.
By ESTHER NURIA