Fiji’s Customary Fishing Resource Owners Urged To Create Resource Trusts

Fisheries Department wants to work with owners to protect and develop resources

By Repeka Nasiko

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, July 21, 2016) – Customary fishing rights owners have been encouraged to establish their own marine resource trust that will work with Government in the management of goodwill payments and issuance of fishing licenses.

Northern principal fisheries officer Joji Vakawaletabua said the trust would be tasked to oversee each development that was carried out in their fishing grounds.

"Some of these customary fishing rights owners have their own five-year or 10-year plans," he said.

"If they have marine protected areas then they could decide to get it gazetted and once that's gazetted it will be protected for 10 years and they can have these areas included in the permits or license conditions.

"We need to have a trust to oversee the development of their qoliqoli (fishing) areas and this has to be formed by the vanua, the yavusa or the mataqali."

He said the Fisheries Department's consultations across the Western Division was important to inform customary fishing rights owners and fishermen about the proposed regularisation of goodwill payments.

"We are also having these public consultations with qoliqoli rights owners in the Western Division so that they can come forward with their issues and ideas that we could use in our regularisation process.

"Through these discussions we are telling our customary fishing rights owners that we are putting in new arrangements for access fees to these qoliqoli areas and the licence fee paid by each fisherman to the Department of Fisheries will remain at $6.10 [US$2.94]."

Fiji Times Online.
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