Legacy of the Seas: The Poalaga Women’s Journey from Fishers to Pioneers in Samoa’s Fishing Industry


In the heart of Samoa, where the azure waters meet the vibrant culture, the Poalaga family has carved out their legacy on the seas. For three generations, the Poalaga women have been the stewards of a thriving fishing business, and their story took a new turn with the completion of Samoa’s first batch of graduates in the micro-qualification training on establishing and operating a small seafood business.

Asovalu Poalaga, at 65, was the matriarch of the family. After spending 30 years in New Zealand, she and her husband decided to return to their homeland, bringing the dream of a prosperous fishing venture.

In 2010, they bought their first boat and enlisted the help of Asovalu’s brothers-in-law and two nephews as fishermen. Thus began their journey as deep-sea fishers, selling their catch at the local market.

Over the years, their enterprise prospered, evolving from a market-based operation to a supplier for hotels and local and Chinese restaurants. What once started with a single boat and three crew members had expanded into a fleet of four boats manned by twelve skilled fishermen.

Asovalu’s vision sustained their family and became an integral part of Samoa’s thriving fishing industry.

This year, The University of the South Pacific Pacific (USP) – European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) project funded by the European Union and the Government of Sweden provided a pivotal initiative to enhance the economic and social aspects of fishing in Samoa.

Asovalu and her daughter, Lolofi, and granddaughter, Maniya, eagerly seized the opportunity to attend the micro-qualification training on establishing and operating a small seafood business.

The training proved to be a transformative experience for the Poalaga women. Asovalu, already a seasoned entrepreneur, saw it as a chance to impart her wisdom to the younger generations.

Lolofi, at 38, gained a new perspective, realizing that the business could transcend its current bounds; and Maniya, at 20, started with no prior business knowledge but left with newfound skills and ambitions.

Expressing her gratitude, Asovalu shared, “I am happy to be part of this training and to involve my daughter and granddaughter. I am getting old now, and I need them to help me in this business, especially to improve and expand the business.”

Lolofi echoed her mother’s sentiments, stating, “I have learned so much from this training, and it has opened my eyes. Our initial goal was to sustain and support the family, but now I see the potential for growth and expansion.”

The youngest of the trio, Maniya, was equally enthusiastic. “I started this training with no knowledge of businesses. But now I have learned so much, and I look forward to helping my mom and grandma in the business, as well as starting my own,” she said.

As the Poalaga family sails into the future, armed with newfound knowledge and a passion for their craft, they are not just fishers; they are pioneers shaping the seascape of Samoa’s fishing industry for generations to come. The success of their small seafood business reflects not only economic prosperity but also the resilience and determination of a family deeply connected to the ocean that sustains them.

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