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Withdrawal Symptoms


There are unconfirmed reports that the village of Avatele is suffering from withdrawal symptoms following the decision of the Village Council to place a month long embargo on fishing and other related activities from Tepa Point to Pofitu.

‘Avatele is a fishing village but we have been made to endure a whole month without fresh fish’, said one informant, ‘all because of some misguided notion that the ban would somehow lessen the impact of a loss of a life.’

Obviously not all in the village hold the same view as our informant. Before the village assemblyman Billy Talagi left on official business overseas it was agreed by those who attended a special prayer at the ramp the morning after the tragedy unfolded that as a mark of respect for Toto the ramp will close for a week. However Councillor Speedo Hetutu advised the village on Sunday that some in the village felt very strongly that a week’s embargo was not enough.

The ramp at Avatele on a beautifully calm morning belies the danger that can lurk in the channel when heavy swells are running. Fisherman Toto Malinao was returning from flying fishing at night when his boat over-turned in rough and squally weather. His body was recovered in the morning by police divers some 50 metres from the channel.

Some of the more conservative elements in the village say that the length of the embargo is directly proportional to the length of time that the landing has been without a drowning – in effect a prayer of thanks to the Lord.

A special meeting was therefore called on the Tuesday where the decision was made to extend the embargo for a month until 10 October, four days before the annual village show day.

Councillors at the meeting did not support a suggestion for a two week ban instead of a month. The decision has effectively meant that the village is not able to hold the marine day on the Saturday before the show day, thus breaking for the first time a tradition that has been in existence for decades. A suggestion that the marine day should still go ahead and for the village to dedicate the occasion to the memory of Toto has not received any traction at all.

While the village canoe fishermen are shore-bound for the duration, boat owners, launching from Sir Robert’s wharf, are enjoying unfettered access to that stretch of the coast line from Pofitu to Tepa and by all accounts picking up a few fish as well. 


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