‘Ban to revive stock’

Pregnant Kaakawa fish sold in markets across the country. Those found selling and fishing Kawakawa and Donu from now until September will be penalised. Picture FILE

OF the known breeding sites of kawakawa and donu in the country, 80 per cent are either declining or gone. Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau, said this meant that the spawning aggregations for these fish no longer formed at these special sites because they have been fished out.

In an official statement, he said the ministry had banned all harvesting, local sales, and export of all grouper (kawakawa) and coral trout (donu) fish species from June 1, 2018 to September 30, 2018 to allow for the two fish to spawn.

“All fisherman, divers, middleman and exporters will need to adhere to this ban,” he said.

“A stand has to be made to stop the rapid decline and continued overfishing of these two highly targeted reef fishes,” he said.

“The ministry’s core business is to manage and conserve all fisheries resources from the high-water mark, the inter tidal zone and to the outer reef slopes, and seaward to the outer limits of the Fiji Exclusive Economic Zone. “One of the new focus for the ministry is to promote sustainable development of the ocean, seas (coastal zones) and all associated marine resources, including the natural environment.”

Mr Koroilavesau said this was a small sacrifice to forego fishing and consuming the two reef fish species for the next four months so as to allow them to breed and allow their numbers to recover or repopulate the reefs across the country.

“The ministry will be working closely with enforcement officers from other agencies to monitor all local fish catches as well as sales,” he said.

“Penalties for infringements of this kawakawa and donu annual seasonal ban are being put in place, and would be enforced by the ministry.”