By PARADISE TABUCALA
Sigatoka – Sigatoka Town has been equipped with 17 new fish wardens thanks to a training held in partnership with the Fisheries Department and Partners in Community Development Fiji.
The week long training was held last month in the village of Nayawa after a request from the Turaga na Tui Madudu, Ratu Isikeli Tasere. This saw Partners in Community Development Fiji (PCDF) mobilise and rope in the services of the Fisheries Department.
Under the Fiji’s Fisheries Act Cap 158, fish wardens are appointed to monitor and detect any contravention of the Fiji Fisheries legislation and to enforce the law on those caught breaching the law. They monitor and cover their “i-qoliqoli” or fishing grounds and to ensure that there is no poaching.
Partipipant and Nayawa villager, 55 year old Peni Vakili says the workshop was an eye opener for the 17 men. Speaking in the vernacular language, Vakili had this to say, “Vei au mada ga, sa dua na itavi levu a sa mai colata meu taqomaka na neitou yau bula. E varaitaka vei keitou na bibi ni taqomaki na veika e soli vei keda, na veika oqo e na kalougata oir na luvei keitou” which translated reads “ for me personally this is a big responsibility in protecting and ensuring sustainability of our natural resources as it is for our future generations.”
The participants were from the four main villages along the Sigatoka river, namely Nayawa, Laselase, Yavulo and Nasama Vunavutu. Also as part of the warden training the participants also planted 3, 000 mangrove seedlings in two places – at the mouth of the Sigatoka River and also in Korotogo.
Speaking to PCDF, Vakili says the training has had an impact on the participants as they mobilised themselves to monitor and replant the mangrove damaged by waves. They have also scheduled a time during their individual Bose va koro (village meetings) to sit down and talk about what they learnt at the workshop and to also speak on their role as fish wardens.
The Fish Warden training was carried out by the “StrengtheningCommunity Leadership for inclusive participation in reducing vulnerability to climatic change in Fiji.” The project is funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) and collaboratively managed by PCDF and the Australian Foundation for the Peoples of Asia and the Pacific Limited (AFAP). PCDF is a strategic partner of AFAP with whom they share a long term commitment to implementing development projects in Fiji. Both PCDF and AFAP are also active members of the Foundation for the South Pacific International (FSPI) network”.