Managing sustainable fisheries is a critical issue for Fiji. It was the topic of some probing speeches and questions during the first 2017 Parliament Speakers’ Debate held on Wednesday night 1st February, 2017 at the Grand Pacific Hotel.
The debate question “How can Fiji’s fishing industry be protected to ensure long-term sustainability” was addressed by a panel of speakers. Speaker Dr Jiko Luveni introduced panelists: Minister for Fisheries, Semi Koroilavesau; Opposition MP, Ro Kinivilaiame Kiliraki, Frances Areki, Project Manager at WWF-South Pacific; Cherie Morris, Research Fellow at USP’s Institute of Marine Resources and Women in Fisheries Network Board member and Dr Joeli Veitayaki Associate Professor of the School of Marine Studies at USP.
Cherie Morris addressed women’s issues in sustainable fishing. Key points she raised included:
• Women need to be included in decision making process especially with regards to fisheries resource mgmt.
• Women need to benefit more from fisheries development projects esp. in the artisanal fisheries sector to generate income and reduce poverty.
• Over-exploitation or destruction of habitats in fishing areas as a result of development activities, can cause women to travel further away to find more productive fishing grounds. This adds to costs and leaves them less time to attend to family responsibilities.
• The influence of market opportunities is now affecting the delicate balance between meeting subsistence needs and generating cash. The increased demand for marine products and greater accessibility to urban markets has led to the desire to increase cash incomes. More women are now selling fisheries products rather than harvesting for subsistence use – before the situation was selling the surplus catch, now it is eating the surplus catch.
• Importantly, there is a need more gender desegregated d data in the fisheries sector.
Cherie summised “This will provide a more complete understanding of fisheries production and rural livelihoods in order to develop better policies and programs for management”.
Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau stated that fisheries resources are now at a juncture where action, more than plans are expected to save our coastal and offshore fisheries resources. He emphasised that in order to be ecologically sustainable in the coastal and offshore fisheries, fish stocks and each species must be regulated to be harvested sustainably.
Dr Joeli Veitayaki of the School of Marine Studies at USP stressed in his speech that firstly Fiji must formulate an integrated sustainable fisheries development framework. This should address the known threats and hindrances that weaken fisheries resource management.
WWF-Pacifics Sustainable Seafood Project Manager Francis Areki passionately presented on Fiji’s inshore fisheries, how to sustain healthy inshore fishing conditions and address current pollution and degradation problems.
The panel discussion can be viewed on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wz12SCOM_QI