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Tabua Traders Must be Registered: Wycliffe

Tabua Traders Must be  Registered: Wycliffe
Hafiz Ali of Henry Pawn Shows some of the tabua pawned and are now on sale on July 18, 2017. Photo: Ronald Kumar.
July 20
11:00 2017


Pawn shops around the nation need to register and get their licence in order to sell tabua (whale’s tooth).

Permanent Secretary for Local Government, Housing and Environment, Joshua Wycliffe, said the registration of pawn shops selling tabua is a requirement under the Endangered and Protected Species (EPS) Act 2002.

Mr Wycliffe said its subsequent regulation of 2003, and registration process began in 2004 after a one year grace period was given to traders.

The reason he said that all pawn shops in Fiji trade tabua, or sperm whales tooth.

“The sperm whales population is highly regarded as threatened with extinction under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild flora and fauna (CITES), hence any trade in the species whether alive or dead, parts and derivatives are strictly regulated under the Act,” Mr Wycliffe said.

He says any persons or company trading species listed in the Schedules or the CITES Appendices is legally required to register with the Department of Environment.

He confirmed that since 2015 over 16 pawn shops have been registered.

DOE also registers companies that trade in species listed in the schedules of the EPS Act or the CITES Appendices, whether alive or dead, parts or derivatives.


Non-registration is an offence under section 2 (1)

and anyone not adhering to it is liable according

to the following:

  1. a) In the case of an individual person – a fine of $20,000 or imprisonment for 4 yrs;
  2. b) In the case of any company or association or body of persons, corporate or unincorporated – a fine of $100,000.

Meanwhile DOE is finalising a special campaign to educate and track down non-registered traders in Fiji.

Confiscated tabua are reported to the Fiji CITES Scientific Council who will decide as how best they can be handled.

He said confiscated tabua in the past have been distributed by way of token of appreciation to communities for conservation related matters, educational and exhibition purposes, gifts, or for formal obligations by Government.

Confiscated tabua is strictly offered for non-commercial purposes.


Background Provided

by DOE

The law (EPS Act) is a requirement under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild flora and fauna (CITES) to which Fiji is a Party.  CITES regulates international trade in species that are deemed threatened with extinction or vulnerable.  These species are listed as Appendices I, II and III under the convention. The EPS Act was formulated to implement CITES at national level, that is, regulates the international and national trade in listed species.  Apart from the CITES listed species, the Act also identifies some indigenous species that fall into this category of being endangered or threatened with extinction, currently listed as Schedules I and II.

Edited by Karalaini Waqanidrola



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