Fiji Chiefs Declare Rewa River A Marine Protected Area

Monitoring, management help save endangered scalloped hammerhead shark

By Aqela Susu

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 6, 2017) – The chiefs of Rewa hope that the declaration of Rewa River as a marine protected area (MPA) will save endangered scalloped hammerhead sharks.

Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa said they were working with the Fisheries Ministry and fishing wardens in ensuring their waters were well monitored and supervised.

The marine protected areas will be taboo for fishing.

"We have always known of their existence and have heard stories of baby sharks being used for bait for fishing," said Ro Teimumu.

"We have been informed that this is an endangered shark specie making us realise that there is a need to protect these nurseries so these sharks could grow and play their role in the marine ecosystem.

"Endangered scalloped hammerhead sharks link Rewa to the oceans of the globe and the chiefs of Rewa have deliberated and decided to take the lead in protecting the species breeding ground by declaring marine protected areas or a taboo."

Ro Teimumu said taboo or marine protection was part of the Fijian heritage as indigenous people.

She said whenever traditional leaders had seen the need, they used these methods to help grow population of their marine resources.

"Our people and fishermen know that when a taboo is declared for them not to fish in the areas. We are hopeful that these baby sharks will no longer be collected as bait, but will be allowed to grow and roam the oceans of the world from their humble origins in Rewa."

The chiefs of the province have also dedicated four days this week for a clean-up campaign.

The vanua of Rewa will also plant 1000 trees in the next three days in an effort to create environmental awareness for its people.

Ro Teimumu also launched a bilibili race yesterday that will be held on October 7.

The race is aimed at creating awareness on river to ocean pollution issues.

"We are hoping to use the race and campaign around it to encourage the industries and various stakeholders to take their corporate social responsibility seriously and do their part in the protection of our oceans," said Ro Teimumu.

Fiji Times Online.
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