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Pitcairn Islands Study Center

News - December 11, 1999

Contact Study Center:

PHONE: 707-965-6244
TEXT:   707-229-1340

Contact Herb Ford:
PHONE: 559-592-0980 or

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  [California Study Center]


PITCAIRN ISLANDS STUDY CENTER, Pacific Union College, Angwin, California USA.

Herbert Ford, 559-592-0980, 559-732-0313.


                        ANGWIN (Napa County) Calif., December 11, 1999—An old-fashioned “share-out” of 1,700 fish took place on Pitcairn Island this week as the result of good fishing at Oeno, the Pitcairners’ so-called “holiday island,” located about 75 miles northwest of Pitcairn.

                        The Pitcairners try to make the voyage to Oeno in their small longboats once a year for “holiday,” which consists of about a week of fishing, gathering coconuts and shells, and general relaxation. The lagoon at Oeno abounds with fish, and the coconut trees on the little crescent-shaped atoll far outnumber the few on Pitcairn itself.

                        Fish is the main source of protein in the Pitcairner diet.

                        For the first time in Pitcairn’s history the islanders took three freezers and a generator with them to Oeno so they could freeze and keep the fish they might catch. The result: some 1,700 frozen red snapper and red coral trout, in addition to the fish eaten by the group while on holiday.

                        Back at Pitcairn, on Tuesday, December 7, the group did a fish “share-out,” a decades-long island practice of sharing out equally to all island families gifts made by captains, crews or passengers of passing ships.

                        According to a report to the Pitcairn Islands Study Center, located on the campus of Pacific Union College here, 17 piles of 100 frozen fish each were shared out to the families on Pitcairn. With practically all Pitcairn homes having individual freezers, the shares promise a fish supply for several weeks into the future.

                        Pitcairners usually spend one or more days each week in fishing, which may be done from the island’s rocky shore, from small, private island-crafted boats, or from the two 42- or 47-foot aluminum island work boats.

                        The late Monday night return to Pitcairn from Oeno by the “vacationing” group meant that an election for Pitcairn’s first-ever “Mayor” had to be delayed one day. On Tuesday, December 7, Steve Christian, a direct descendant of Fletcher Christian, leader of the famed mutiny on H.M.S. Bounty was elected to the post.

                        Jay Warren, who had been serving as the island’s “Magistrate,” a position to which Pitcairners have been elected for more than a century, was named chairman of Pitcairn’s Internal Committee, which oversees public work that is required of all able-bodied adult men on the island. Warren was also asked to perform the judicial role of a magistrate if such is ever required in the future.

                        Four islanders were elected to the Pitcairn Island Council, and Betty Christian was named as Island Secretary.