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Opinion, Opinion

EDITORIAL-Ocean Conference A Success But What Happens After Is Equally Important

EDITORIAL-Ocean Conference A Success But What Happens After Is Equally Important
The Oceania Dance Group
June 10
11:00 2017

As the United Nations Ocean Conference draws to a close, all indications are that this has been a successful exercise to raise international awareness about the threats facing our oceans.

As a co-host with Sweden, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and his team have really turned on the heat over pollution, littering,  overfishing and illegal fishing.

The Fijian input into the conference with the traditional iTaukei welcome ceremony and the performance of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces band, the Oceania Dance Group, the Pasifika Voices and a host of Fijians who worked behind the scene, has made this conference special and one to remember for a long time to come.

At every forum where he spoke, Mr Bainimarama did not hold back his words. He spoke with passion, power and clarity, his message about protecting our oceans ringing in the minds of those present.

He said: “We need ordinary men, women and children to make a personal commitment to join the fight to save our seas and oceans. And that means changing some of the things we do in the Pacific and adopting a more enlightened approach to ocean management.

“There is no point in continually saying that “something must be done” if we expect others to do it for us. We must all take responsibility for it ourselves. Yes, there are some things that are beyond our ability to influence, like the greedy nations and greedy commercial interests that are stripping our oceans of the bounty that is rightfully ours.

“Invading our economic zones in the knowledge that we lack the means to adequately defend them.”

On this note we express our appreciation to the navies of New Zealand, Australia, the United States and France for their assistance in defending our economic zones.

In the past week a combined team of New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and Republic of Fiji Navy personnel sent seven of 70 fishing vessels boarded during fisheries patrols in western Fiji back to port because of licensing and maritime safety issues.

According to a statement from the NZ Defence Force’s Lieutenant Dave Luhrs, the Commanding Officer of Inshore Patrol Vessel HMNZS Hawea, said one of the seven vessels had to be escorted back to Lautoka, in the west of Viti Levu, Fiji’s largest island, after it was found to be fishing without a licence.

“The boarding team also found that the vessel’s captain did not hold a master’s licence.

“The latest patrols focused on commercial fishing vessels and yachts entering Fiji’s territorial waters, Lieutenant Luhrs said.

“Its deployment to Fiji marks the first time that a Royal New Zealand Navy Inshore Patrol Vessel has been deployed to the South Pacific, and fulfils the New Zealand Government’s offer to assist Fiji in maritime surveillance.”

Imagine what has happened in the past without these types of patrols and surveillance. Selfish commercial fishing companies exploit our lack of capacity to regularly patrol the zone.

When delegates head home from New York, let’s hope they keep the message alive by implementing the ideas gained there. In Fiji, we must build on Mr Bainimarama’s message. We should stop the indiscriminate dumping of rubbish on the roadside.

The road from Suva to Sawani via Colo-i-suva is a national disgrace. An assortment of rubbish, mostly plastic wrappings, thrown out from car and bus windows, litters both sides of the road. The Queens Rd from Suva to Nadi is also in the same state.

We need to clean up our roads in the same way as we are doing to our foreshores. That will make this conference more meaningful.



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