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Editorial: A Lesson In Conservation And Legacy

Editorial: A Lesson In Conservation And Legacy
July 12
10:17 2018

It seems the lessons have not been learned.

It seems there still are pockets of resistance to plans and initiatives to ensure we leave something to our children and grandchildren.

It seems some still do not know the meaning of conservation and legacy.

This is in reference to a decision to ban the fishing, sale and export of all species of Groupers (Kawakawa) and Coral Trout (Donu) during their peak spawning months from June 6 to September 30 this year.

The reason is simple.    

The idea is to help revive these rapidly declining fish species.

During a recent visit to the Northern Division Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama received representations from a group of fishermen who questioned the powers of the Ministry of Fisheries to impose a ban on the fish species.

A fisheries officer based at the Lekutu fisheries office explained to the villagers that the bans placed on the harvesting of the two fish species were based on proven research and surveys carried out by specialists.

We appreciate the fact that people have a right to question such decisions and are using that right.

But in the interests of conservation and legacy we say people should accept the bans and find alternatives.

No bans are placed on other species so why the concern about these two particular bans?

Because of their high demand, these species are extremely overfished and need direct management interventions to avoid exploitation to a chronic level of depletion.

Under the ban any person or business found selling kawakawa and donu during the four-month ban period can have their fish confiscated and face high fines:

• For individuals, an instant fine of $10,000, with the potential of up to $50,000 in fines;

• For corporations, an instant fine of $20,000, with the potential of up to $100,000 in fines.

The level of the fine will depend on the severity of the offence and will be determined by the courts.

A public announcement was made and a grace period imposed. The public notice was very clear in specifying that there was a ban on fishing, collection, sales and export of all species of grouper and coral trout.

Surely for those living in the islands there are other fish they can consume, rather than kawakawa and donu.

People cannot live on kawakawa and donu alone.

Farming is another source of income and we all know that farmers are very rich.

Kawakawa and donu are A-grade fish that are critical food and income for Fijians. But the stocks of these fish species are facing collapse, if no management action is taken.

The ban is intended to ensure the fish species are allowed to successfully breed each year, so the stocks recover. Because if we let them breed each year we can have more fish for the rest of the year.

We have to think of the future generations as they would also like to enjoy what we’re enjoying from the sea resources.

Surely we should support the two bans.

For those who want to go their own way they are reminded that no one is above the law.

The bans were not imposed to impinge on the ability of fishermen to earn a living or to make things hard for them.   

The idea was conserving fish stocks and leaving something for our future generations.

So let’s respect the bans.

Maika Bolatiki


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