Tui Macuata endorses 1 year Kasala Ban for Qoliqoli Cokovata.
The ban which begins from February till December 2017, is specifically targeted towards iQoliqoli cokovata and includes the traditional fishing grounds of Sasa, Macuata, Nabekavu, Mali and Dreketi.
Work towards the one year ban was in response to a survey generated by WWF-Pacific’s Coastal Fisheries Officer, Mr Laitia Tamata on the health of 20 commercial targeted species last year.
The Survey on the Spawning Potential for 20 commercial species in qoliqoli cokovata resulted in Kasala (Epinephelus polyphekadion) highlighted as one of those fish species needing urgent management if it is to continue being abundant in the fishing grounds.
“The spawning potential or fish population of Kasala is in decline and is in danger of being depleted to a point that communities could lose it (Kasala) as a major food source,”Mr Tamata said.
He added that the endorsement by the Tui Macuata was a step in the right direction.
“I’d like to say that we are blessed to witness an event, that we are part of history in contributing to inshore fisheries management especially in the province of Macuata,” Mr Tamata said.
WWF’S Sustainable Seafood Manager Mr Francis Areki said the one year ban is a tool to enable the Kasala to recover by allowing mature members of this fish species population to spawn and become abundant enough to be fished again.
“The ban will only be in effect for the iQoliqoli cokovata and not the entire Fiji group and is based from the spawning potential results collected from this iQoliqoli,” Mr Areki said.
In conjunction with the Kasala ban is the new licensing conditions for fishermen who fish within the waters of the iQoliqoli cokovata, a mechanism dovetailed to ensure that fishermen adhere to the requirements of the ban.
“I know a lot of people are having kasala, but in this day and age, we just need to adhere to the requirements of the ban, it’s going to be a challenge but we have done it this year and the onus is on the Department of Fisheries as the paramount player in ensuring that requirements are adhered to,” said the Tui Macuata, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere.
He added that part of the conditions for consent is for fishermen to submit their catch return forms for the monitoring of the fish stock and failure to comply will result in the non-issuance of consent.
The Senior Fisheries Officer Northern, Mr Alifereti Tuinamata adds that fishing licenses for the iqoliqoli cokovata are issued by the Fisheries Department, while the consent to fish within the iqoliqoli waters is approved by the Tui Macuata.
“We have been very fortunate to work with iQoliqoli cokovata, they are one of the first traditional custodians of a fishery ground to allow the Department of Fisheries to take a lead role in the issuance of licenses while all the other iQoliqoli’s deal directly with their fishermen.
“Since 2015, the iQoliqoli cokovata Macuata (qcmc) had asked the Department of Fisheries to vet all Fishermen by checking their compliance with MSAF’s proper codes, their catch data, boat master license and safety equipment and once we have done that we will submit our recommendations to the Tui Macuata for his consent.” Mr Tuinamata said.
WWF works towards improving fisheries management and establishing protected area network sites within the qoliqoli cokovata. The qoliqoli cokovata makes up a portion of Fiji’s unique Great Sea Reef and is the third longest continuous barrier reef system in the world running for over 200km from the north eastern tip of Udu point in Vanua Levu to Bua at the north west edge of Vanua Levu, across the Vatuira passage, veering off along the way to hug the coastline of Ra and Ba provinces and into the Yasawas.
The project is funded through the NZAID and supported through the David and Lucille Packard Foundation which aims at demonstrating effective governance and management approaches for inshore fisheries in Fiji through collaborative national and community driven partnerships.