Why Fiji Targets Mud Crab Fishers for Financial Literacy
By Jeanne Doran
August 9, 2017
Mud crabs are big business in Fiji. In the Bua province on the northern island of Vanua Levu, these small crabs provide year-round income for fishers, the majority of whom are coastal women who harvest and sell them to restaurants and hotels.
So central are mud crabs to the economic empowerment of women in Fiji that they are regarded as a key part of future prosperity—even as overharvesting, climate change and habitat destruction have led to a declining supply.
The challenge now is to make mud crab fishing sustainable and to ensure that fishers know how to plan and manage their businesses and their finances.
Towards this end, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Westpac Banking Corporation joined forces in early July to provide fishers with financial literacy training aimed at helping them grow and manage their businesses. It included basic financial skills such as budgeting, savings and money management in addition to identifying marketing opportunities to boost income.
A major thrust of the financial education was directed toward women fishers. Classes were offered through a mud crab project in collaboration with the Ministry of Fisheries and the Fiji Locally-Managed Marine Area network. This is the first time such financial literacy training has been offered.
“As part of our process of empowering the mud crab collectors of Bua Province, we recognized improving the fishers’ financial literacy skills as an imperative step towards this,” WCS Women in Fisheries coordinator Margaret Fox told the Fiji Times. Making informed financial decisions, she said, will help fishers market their products in a more effective way.
Recent WCS analysis found that though the coastal communities are selling mud crabs regularly, they’re getting lower prices compared to fishers who sell to larger markets. In many cases, women fishers earned less than their male counterparts.
The conservation group has been working in these communities to increase earnings and to engage fishers through financial education to develop management plans to help make mud crab fishing a sustainable industry.