Cultural Food Preperation

Locally caught fish are sold at the market in Neiafu. Photo © Davey Kline 2017

Coastal fisheries are critically important to community livelihoods and reef habitat health. Programs such as community managed reefs (SMAs) are being developed to provide benefits to both biodiversity and livelihoods.

In Tonga, many communities still practice traditional food preservation methods; in part due to limited electricity sources to freeze or refrigerate produce especially on the outer islands.

Fish can be either dried, smoked on a fire or salted. © Davey Kline 2017

Fish can be preserved and cooked in a variety of ways including smoked over a fire, dried in the sun or salted.

When smoked over a fire, the fish becomes crispy and can be preserved for between a week to two weeks, at which time it can be boiled with coconut milk and onions. The smoking process can take up to a two weeks to complete.

Salted fish, allow for the families to store fish for 3 to 4 days, prior to salting the scales and innards of the fish are removed and the fish is covered with salt both inside and out and then stored in a sealed container.

Dried octopus on display at the agriculture show. Photo © Davey Kline 2017


Sun drying includes both octopus and fish, octopus are a favoured reef creature for local consumption. The sun drying process can be time consuming. Once the octopus or fish are cleaned, they are hung on sticks and left to dry for between a few weeks to a month.

Once they are dried, they are singed over a fire to kill any insect eggs such as flies.

The octopus or fish can then be eaten or stored for future meals. Dried octopus and fish can be eaten directly (kind of like jerky!).



Supporting sustainable ocean programs is a way of supporting traditional practices and livelihoods. Healthy oceans provide many benefits to communities both economically and for subsistence use.

To find out more about our support and efforts for sustainable ocean programs visit Vava’u Ocean Initiative.


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