Sunvoice

Editorial: Sustainable Use And Protection Of Our Fishing Environment

Mr Koroilavesau was spot on when he said: “While the development of a ‘best approach’ to mitigate and avoid capture of unwanted bycatch is a huge progress, the success of this tool requires continuous collaboration between all stakeholders, including fishers, processors, trainers, NGO’s and national fisheries agency to name a few.”
28 Feb 2019 12:20
Editorial: Sustainable Use And Protection Of Our Fishing Environment
Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesdau at Kiuva Village in Tailevu on June 27, 2018. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Fishers when out fishing should avoid interaction with protected species. They include fish and non-fin fish like sharks, turtles and seabirds.

This was the gist of the Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesu’s keynote address while launching the Bycatch Training Manual at the  in Suva.

Not only do fishers need to be aware that such interaction may occur, but they should, as far as they are able, mitigate or avoid such interaction while going about their fishing activities.

It is a fact that overfishing because of rogue vessels in Fiji’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is becoming a serious concern for the Ministry of Fisheries.

The fishing industry should recognise the responsibility they have to make every feasible effort to avoid or reduce interactions with protected species.

Mr Koroilavesau was spot on when he said: “While the development of a ‘best approach’ to mitigate and avoid capture of unwanted bycatch is a huge progress, the success of this tool requires continuous collaboration between all stakeholders, including fishers, processors, trainers, NGO’s and national fisheries agency to name a few.”

Additionally, with the use of the manual, trainees should be able to:

  • Identify the animals which are of “special interest” or protected species;
  • Explain the current requirements when interaction with protected species occur;
  • Explain why protected species get caught during fishing activities;
  • Describe what “best practice” in avoiding interaction;
  • Use safe handling and release practices; and
  • Be able to develop individual Vessel Management Plans

While the manual provides an accredited training platform for crew members, it also offers the perfect opportunity for fish handlers to contribute to a sustainable fishing environment.

The bycatch manual, as the minister said, would not only build capacity for the fishing sector but more importantly, it complemented the collective approach that Fiji and its partners were undertaking in the sustainable use and protection of our limited resources.

Now that the manual is launched the private sector and academic institution, should now take ownership of it and operationalise it to its full capacity.

For fishers, the onus is on them and they must act responsibly. The manual should also be taken down to the traditional fishing ground owners.

Some with the influence of those in the fishing business work with them and catch fish from restricted fishing areas and in Marine Protected Areas (MPA). Reports have been received from Bua that fishermen from Suva are fishing in their MPA and they have the support of some of the owners.

Living the protected species alone will benefit our marine life especially for the future generation when they will have an abundance of supply.

Be reminded that the manual is designed to present existing knowledge in a straight forward manner that can be useful for those actually implementing community-based fisheries management, as well as to those who just want to learn more about it.

Feedbackmaikab@fijisun.com.fj

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