7 Nov 2018

Fiji fisherpeople being ripped off - report

11:38 am on 7 November 2018

A new report in Fiji has found local men and women who fish for a living are being ripped off by middlemen and exporters.

Spawning Kawaka (grouper) in Fiji.

Spawning Kawaka (grouper) in Fiji. Photo: Paul McKenzie - 4FJ


It is just one of several findings from a recently released study called the 'Value Chain Analysis of the Fiji Grouper Fishery'.

Its lead author biologist,Yvonne Yjsadovy, from the University of Hong Kong, has been working with the ministry studying grouper stock and economic value since 2003.

She said they knew the stock for this commercially valuable fish was declining, but this study has revealed where the fish are going and who is benefitting the most from their exploitation.

The fishermen get paid the same amount irrespective of the species.

"We were surprised by this because some of the species in the retail sector and certainly in the export market get a much, much higher price and so one of several recommendations is that fishermen should be able to be in a much better bargaining situation, know more about the prices, be able to get better prices for the fish that they catch."

The study also found gross under reporting of export quantities from the grouper fishery and Yvonne Yjsadovy said Fiji needed to re-evaluate the fish.

"There is a lot of local interest domestic interest in grouper its culturally, some of the species are very much appreciated locally, it is used as food, the grouper's are used as food, so that is a food security issue and Fiji has a lot of tourists and they need good fish.

"So you know one of the questions is, is it worthwhile exporting and I think that is true of reef fisheries generally."

The study was conducted by the Fiji Ministry of Fisheries in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society and scientists from the University of British Columbia in Canada and the Science and Conservation of Fish Aggregations.

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