Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in Samoa, spending my whole childhood in the big island of Savai’i where both my parents are from. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science degree from the University of the South Pacific in Fiji in 2014.
Upon completion of my studies I returned home to Samoa and was fortunate to find a job at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, where I worked as a Fisheries Compliance Officer. This role included conducting boarding inspections of fishing vessels that had come into port to unload their catch. This was mainly to check compliance with their licensing conditions and national fisheries regulations. I also assisted with market surveys and processing of fishing licenses, and essentially anything to do with the sustainable management and development of Samoa's offshore fisheries.
Since moving to Fiji, I started TraSeable Solutions with my husband, Ken, and since then we've started a lot of innovative work in the fisheries and agriculture sectors. Through this exciting work, I've had opportunities to travel and share our ideas and experiences at a number of national and international events.
What does the ocean mean to you?
My favorite memory of the ocean growing up in Savai’i would be the times my cousins and I would run to greet our grandpa returning home in the early morning after a night out at sea, fishing in his outrigger canoe. Most of my childhood was spent near the ocean. My mom's family home is the only house you'd find on the seaside in her village of Satufia, Satupaitea. The ocean is literally our backyard which as a kid was pretty cool until we started noticing the sea level rising higher above our seawall as the years went by.
When I think of the ocean, I think about the abundance of resources within it that our people in the Pacific Islands rely so heavily on for their food security, livelihoods and employment. I also think about my aunts and uncles living in our villages in Savai’i, who still go out daily to fish and gather seafood. I think about the beautiful reefs that were once thriving with an abundance of corals and fish species but are now overfished or bleached as a result of pollution and climate change.
What do you see as the biggest challenges facing our oceans in 2020?
I see climate change, plastic pollution and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing as the biggest challenges facing our oceans in 2020.
What does this year’s World Oceans Day theme, “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean” mean to you?
It means that we still have an opportunity to make a difference for our oceans. Time is running out, but through innovation and thinking creatively we can impact change to realize a sustainable ocean.
Tell us how the idea for TraSeable Solutions came about.
My husband and I started TraSeable Solutions in 2017 after many discussions about how we could both stay involved and help develop the fisheries sector in the Pacific given our experiences working in fisheries nationally and regionally. We saw an opportunity in the traceability space because noone else at the time was doing work in this area and that's how we got started.