Young fishermen learn about traditional navigation, sharks

Posted on Nov 19 2019

Members of the Saipan Fishermen’s Association Youth Fishing Club pose with master navigator Cecilio Raiukiulipiy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist Mia Iwane last Nov. 16 at the Public School System central office on Capital Hill. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

Members of the Youth Fishing Club of the Saipan Fishermen’s Association were in for a treat last Nov. 16 at the Public School System central office on Capital Hill, where they learned the basics of traditional navigation from a master navigator and gained knowledge about the ocean’s apex predator, sharks.

Master navigator Cecilio Raiukiulipiy taught the young fisherman the basics of relying on their own knowledge to navigate the vast ocean, while National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration social scientist Mia Iwane taught them about sharks.

“If you learn navigation, it would never fail,” Raiukiulipiy said. “With GPS [global positioning system], the battery can die someday, the satellite can make it crazy, but if you know your environment and you respect it and understand it, your environment will help you and guide you to get back.”

More than just basic wayfinding, Raiukiulipiy also stressed navigation as a cultural identity.
“It is our identity. It is our culture, and [the youth] have to be proud of who they are as an islander,” Raiukiulipiy said.

Among the students was Marianas High School’s Edward Omar. “We are here to inspire the youth to come and learn how to fish because people in this generation do not know how to fish,” Omar said.

The students also learned about the behavior of sharks and other marine species from Iwane, who flew in from Hawaii to work with the community on shark interactions and changing behavior in the Marianas.

“I am here to share with the students that there are different parts of marine science and fisheries science that they can get into. Not a lot of people think about the human side of fisheries, which is really important for management and for the good of the community,” Iwane said.

Set to run for eight months, the SFA Youth Fishing program supports SFA’s vision to give the youth an understanding of ocean preservation and the fishery industry in the CNMI. The program was recently approved for elective credits under the CNMI Public School System.

To learn more about SFA’s Youth Fishing Program, contact SFA president Gene Weaver at 236-9700 or email

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