Consultations Held Over Access Fee
Since last December many fishermen have been unable to fish as a result of the proposed inshore access fee currently under public consultation.
The Central Division held its consultation for the Rewa, Tailevu, and Naitasiri area at the Catholic Parish hall in Nausori on Wednesday.
Over 100 fishermen, middlemen, and customary fishing right owners gathered to raise their grievances and make written submissions on the proposed access fee to the representatives of the Ministry of Fisheries.
The aim of the new proposed access fee is to benefit the customary fishing right owners to maintain long-term sustainability in the iqoliqoli grounds.
Senior Fisheries officer, Aporosa Rabo, said the reason for consultation was to allow both parties to reach a platform where they could move forward on the use of the iqoliqoli waters.
“We should also consider the sustainability of our iqoliqoli grounds,” said Mr Rabo.
However most fishermen were not satisfied after the consultation as the proposed fee of $3000 for large commercial fishermen was just too much.
Fisherman and boat owner, Anil Singh said the proposed fee was too much and since last month they hadn’t been allowed to fish.
“We are asking if the Government could reduce it to a reasonable fee of $1000,” said Mr Singh.
Other issues raised was over the sizes of fish and crabs caught, questions on applying for an offshore license, the banning of underwater breathing apparatus (scuba diving gear), and the improvement of where fish are sold at the Nausori market.
Edited by Jonathan Bryce