22 May 2020

Fiji govt continues fish ban

6:23 am on 22 May 2020

Fiji's government says the seasonal ban on the harvest, sale and consumption of Grouper and Coral Trout fish, (Kawakawa and Donu), will resume next month.

The Grouper and Coral Trout (Kawakawa and Donu).

The Grouper and Coral Trout (Kawakawa and Donu). Photo: Supplied/Fiji govt

Minister for Fisheries, Semi Koroilavesau, said the ban - from June to September - aimed to protect the two species during their peak breeding months.

Mr Koroilavesau said the ministry confiscated more than 260 kilogrammes of Grouper and Coral Trout during last year's harvest ban.

"We have carried out the public consultations and awareness - now it exists within our people.

"There will be confiscations, but also fines will be given out. So it's illegal to catch, sell and consume the two fish species."

He said the ban had been effective towards better management of these important resources.

Ocean commitments

The Fisheries Minister said the government had undertaken 17 voluntary commitments to contribute to the protection and sustainable management of the ocean during the 2017 United Nations Ocean Conference in New York.

Mr Koroilavesau said one of the commitments was to sustainably manage Fiji's Grouper and Coral Trout resources.

He said this also included monitoring the fish, protecting spawning aggregation sites as well as applying seasonal and spatial management measures.

"It is these two species that we seek to protect as their numbers have been declining over the years," he said.

Mr Koroilavesau said, based on science and data collected over the years, there were more than 150 other species in the ocean that were available and could be harvested during the seasonal ban of the Grouper and Coral Trout.

"We are pleased with the support over the years on the seasonal ban from the communities and people along with our partner agencies and we hope that it's further strengthened through collaborative efforts into the future."

The ban on fish starts on 1 June and ends on 31 September.

Semi Koroilavesau.

Semi Koroilavesau. Photo: Supplied/Fiji govt

Ocean policy plan

Meanwhile, the government said it would create a National Ocean Policy for Fiji to secure and sustainably manage Fiji's ocean and marine resources.

The Minister for the Economy, Aiyaz Saiyed-Khaiyum, said the public could help the government in the policy-making process by giving their feedback as submissions were now open to Fijians.

"Our ocean is precious beyond measure and Fiji has enjoyed the gifts it provides.

"The policy will help create rules and guidelines to help us better protect this priceless resource for us and our future generations."