VANUATU: ULLEVEO - MASKELYNE ISLAND
Ulleveo, also known as Maskelyne Island is the most populated of the small Maskelyne Islands group off of Malekula, Vanuatu. For over one hundred years it has been home to one of the most skillful fishing communities in the region.
Fishing on the Maskelynes is done around the abundant reefs which surround the islands. Men and occasionally women employ fishing techniques that include the use of nets, locally made spear guns as well as a combination of the two. The equipment is very basic and fishermen often need to rely on their physical prowess to be successful. Most are strong free divers with the ability to hold their breath underwater for minutes at a time.
Little has changed on Maskelyne Island over the past fifty years and while modernization is creeping in, it is doing so slowly. The island remains without electricity, running water and other modern-day commodities. Life revolves around the community, church, kava drinking and occasional festivals that celebrate special occasions.