Concerted Efforts Needed To Increase Awareness On Sustainable Fishing

Fiji could face a bleak future should we continue the use of unsustainable fishing practices that result in overfishing, evident in increased undersized catches present in fish markets across the nation.
07 May 2023 12:52
Concerted Efforts Needed To Increase Awareness On Sustainable Fishing
Students of Immaculate Conception College in Bua learn more about the 4FJ Fish Smart through a presentation by Bua conservation officer, Manasa Vula. Photo: Ministry of Fisheries and Forestry

Fiji could face a bleak future should we continue the use of unsustainable fishing practices that result in overfishing, evident in increased undersized catches present in fish markets across the nation.

That’s why the Ministry of Fish­eries is leading 4FJ Fish Smart, a cross-sector campaign to help communities take local actions to improve the health of their fish­ing grounds while also enlisting fish sellers and buyers across the nation to do their part by pledging to avoid undersize fish and comply with national fisheries regulations.

“Our coastal resources are the bedrock for the food security and livelihoods for many of our mari­time communities,” said Minister for Fisheries and Forestry, Kalaveti Ravu.

“Sustaining these coastal resourc­es in Fiji is therefore a matter of survival and it will take all of us coming together to make collective commitments and take practical solutions.”

The 4FJ campaign was originally launched to reverse declines in kawakawa and donu fisheries. As the Government of Fiji passed a legal seasonal ban on those fish, to protect the peak spawning months, the campaign shifted to provide support to reverse the decline of other important food and income fish.

The solutions include banning harmful fishing practices, pro­tecting key habitats and fishing grounds, using selective harvest­ing, and avoiding undersize fish, among other Fish Smart rules and practices.

Over the past year, the Ministry and its partners have been working to distribute 4FJ Fish Smart infor­mation materials nationally that help communities host grassroots ‘talanoa’ on what is driving over­fishing and potential local actions that can help reverse the decline of their iqoliqoli.

Change, the organisation who is coordinating 4FJ Fish Smart, re­ports that more than 250 communi­ties have received these informa­tion materials, through a network of partners led by the Ministry of Fisheries, conservation officers from iTaukei Affairs, civil society, and community champions.

This 4FJ Fish Smart informa­tion toolkit includes illustrated booklets, which promote commu­nity discussions, posters that share minimum sizes, videos, and more. The new toolkit also includes a 4FJ Fish Smart mobile app that shares legal sizes for common food fish, the Set Sizes, which are the recom­mended minimum sizes, and what species are banned.

“A recent evaluation of the cam­paign through surveys, interviews and a workshop found the infor­mation materials were effective in fostering inclusive dialogues, and plans are afoot to produce another round of outreach tools and reach more communities,” explains cChange Country Director Mafa Qiolele.

“We have had really good feed­back on the value of the informa­tion materials and the talanoa that have resulted. And the overall recommendation is to do more of what we are already doing, to reach more communities,” added Ms Qi­olele.

The second key piece of the cam­paign is asking people in Fiji’s ur­ban areas to support this work by foregoing undersize fish.

Back in 1942, the legal minimum sizes were based on studies from other countries. So, in recent years, the Ministry of Fisheries teamed up with fisheries experts and civil society to collect data on the size of maturity of Fiji fish and determine exactly what sizes these fish should be to ensure they are breeding enough each year to re­stock fishing grounds.

“The campaign is also sharing that current legal sizes and the new research on minimum sizes for fish in Fiji to help fishers, fish sellers and buyers and consumers make more informed decisions. These updated sizes are called Set Sizes, because if you are catching Set Size or bigger, the future is Set. Set Sizes are not legally enforce­able, but it should be our target if we want to keep enjoying these spe­cies,” added Ms Qiolele.

The Ministry of Fisheries and cChange are planning to visit fish sellers nationally in the coming months to continue to promote the legal sizes and recommended Set Sizes, and help increase compli­ance to reduce undersize fish in Fiji’ fish markets.

To help spread this information and encourage individuals to avoid undersize fish, the campaign also plans pledge drives around Fiji at fish markets, national events and gatherings in the coming months. Over 4,000 pledges to avoid under­size fish have been made since the launch of 4FJ Fish Smart in 2020.

The campaign is funded by the Pacific European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) programme, and its implementing partners the Locally-Managed Area Marine Net­work International (LMMA) and the Pacific Community (SPC). The PEUMP programme is funded by the European Union and the Gov­ernment of Sweden.

The campaign is also funded through Oceans 5 and Bloomberg Philanthropies Vibrant Oceans Initiative and is being implement­ed in partnership with Ministry if Fisheries, cChange, Wildlife Con­servation Society Fiji, Fiji Locally- Managed Area Marine Network, Conservation International, and International Union for the Con­servation of Nature.

To learn more about the campaign and download the new information materials visit and follow to stay up to date.


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Source: Ministry of Fisheries and Forestry


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