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Fiji Time: 8:22 AM on Wednesday 24 September

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Rythms of life

Ilaitia Turagabeci
Monday, October 24, 2011

SHARK advocate Teddy Fong says Fiji citizens should do more to protect sharks to safeguard the future for our next generations.

As a diver and founding member of the Econesian Society, which goes out to communities to raise awareness on the ecosystems, Mr Fong said Pacific islanders had lost touch with their past and the environment.

"Our youths need to regain and protect their Pacific identify. The future will be bleak if youths are disjointed from their natural environment," he said.

"The sea, the land, our traditional medicine, we need to regain that knowledge so that our children know and learn the rhythms of life.

"The young, and I also mean those in their 40s and 50s, are already disjointed. Imagine the younger generations.

"If the protection of sharks stand a chance going into the future, we need to rectify this. For conservation efforts to be successful, the young need to regain that knowledge. The knowledge has to be passed down."

Mr Fong said overfishing of marine resources had depleted our stocks and affected the food chain.

Citing the Vanuanavakavu, across the Suva Peninsula past Lami, he said the reefs had started to recover from over-exploitation.

"I have noticed that places where there are no sharks, the reef systems are unhealthy.

"Vanuanavakavu is at a recovery stage after it was declared a marine protected area."

The Econesian Society has helped the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) and the Pew Environment Group take the message to villages and schools to educate and help push for legislation to ban the commercial fishing of sharks.

Today, the awareness campaign steps up with its launch at Suva's Village 6 Cinemas by the Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

It includes the screening of a 30-minute documentary called Shark Hope.

It is about the plight of Fiji's sharks and efforts to protect them, chronicles their importance to Fiji's culture through myths and stories, as well as the critical role they play in maintaining a healthy marine environment.

The film features the Gone Turaga Bale na Tui Cakau, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, and Sharkman Manoa Rasigatale.


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