The Hon. Minister for Fisheries and Forests, Osea Naiqamu reiterated the need for people to refrain from buying or selling kawakawa and donu during the peak breeding months.
Minister Naiqamu highlighted this in Lami last night during the inaugural 4FJ Campaign Ball organised by SeaWeb Asia Pacific.
The Ball marked the success of the 4FJ Campaign whereby Fijians were urged not to buy or sell critically endangered groupers, kawakawa and donu from June to September.
Minister Naiqamu applauded the civil society, private sector, Government, religious organisations, fishermen and community members for the successful campaign.
He said the Ministry of Fisheries will continue to monitor the buying or selling of kawakawa and donu in order to maintain healthy reefs and fisheries as well as to support food and income needs of Fijians.
“One of the reasons these fish are so vulnerable is that they gather predictably every year in the same spots and the same times to spawn. These places are called spawning aggregation sites. In one Fisheries Department study, the landings of these fish in Fiji were found to have declined by 70 per cent over 30 years. It’s alarming for the future of this nation,” Minister Naiqamu said.
A study in 2003 showed that 73 per cent of the spawning aggregation sites in Fiji surveyed were declining with 18 per cent of them found to be dead and only 9 per cent were reported healthy.
“Just last month, the Fisheries Department in partnership with the University of Hong Kong surveyed spawning sites near Labasa. The Mali Passage, the nearest spawning site to Labasa, and therefore the most accessible was found to no longer be viable for spawning.
“That means a passage that supported generations of Fijians with these fish is gone for all future generations, as science has not shown us any examples of these sites coming back once they are knocked out,” Minister Naiqamu said.
He said creative initiatives like the 4FJ campaign by SeaWeb Asia Pacific to call on people to successfully manage kawakawa and donu is a catalyst for a long-term dialogue on better managing marine resources in Fiji.
“One of the key challenges we face in this effort to create change is making the solutions relevant and meaningful for our local communities. We are balancing short-term needs with long-term sustainability. This is the heart of the Fijian Government’s Green Growth Framework and the mandate for the Department of Fisheries,” Minister Naiqamu stressed.
SeaWeb Asia Pacific executive director, Scott Radway said the 4FJ campaign to conserve Grade-A fish kawakawa and donu was a journey to partner with people and turn this momentum into long-term benefits for communities that depend on these fish.
Mr Radway said efforts to raise funds and create awareness about these endangered fish across the country will carry on.
(Video link of Hon. Osea Naiqamu’s speech : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2K8oqE6EMA)