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FEATURE STORY June 1, 2020

Meet our Samoan Innovator and Entrepreneur Protecting our Oceans: Shaunalee Katafono


Shaunalee Katafono, from Savai’i in Samoa, is the co-founder of TraSeable Solutions, that is committed to more sustainable and responsible sourcing and delivery of food from sea to plate. She hopes this innovative approach will not only help to hold businesses more accountable in their fishing practices to supply chains, but encourage consumers to also demand for sustainable and ethically sourced seafood.

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.

"As consumers, we all can play a part in helping to curb illegally-caught fish from entering the markets by demanding for fully traceable seafood products."
Shaunalee Katafono
Co-Founder, TraSeable Solutions


(Photo: supplied)

How does this innovative approach work in terms of oceans health? 

A lot of what we do is around creating awareness about the negative impacts of illegal and unregulated fishing on our ocean’s health, and to basically influence seafood consumers to buy traceable and ethically caught fish that are sourced from sustainable stocks.

Growing consumer demand for sustainable and ethically sourced fish encourages fishing operators to change the way they operate to meet that demand. This can even extend to reducing their carbon footprint and marine pollution in their fishing activities. We believe our approach is innovative because it leverages digital tools like a mobile app and web-based platform, to essentially record information about those tagged fish as they move from one point to the next in the supply chain – from sea to plate.


What or who motivates you the most?

My family is my biggest motivation in everything I do. I'd like to one day tell my kids that we did our best to support the sustainable use of our oceans with the limited resources we had so that they too may be able to enjoy its benefits like how I did growing up.

I enjoy the work we do at TraSeable because I get to work alongside my husband every day. It's not easy being a husband-and-wife team, but we've learned so much together while developing Traseable. It is also rewarding to know that we are helping businesses in the fisheries and agriculture sectors to become more ethical and transparent in their supply chains.


What message would you like everyone to hear on World Oceans Day 2020?

I would like for everyone to start asking questions about the seafood they are buying and to demand to know when, where, how and who caught their fish; whether it was legally caught and whether it was caught from sustainable stocks. As consumers, we all can play a part in helping to curb illegally-caught fish from entering the markets by demanding for fully traceable seafood products.

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**The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of the World Bank Group and its employees.