THE Fisheries Department has maintained its stance that it carried out wide consultation with representatives of the industry in its bid to ban shark catching within Fijis Exclusive Economic Zone.
Director Sanaila Naqali said yesterday the tuna industry was consulted on two occasions before a submission was made to Cabinet over the matter following its two-year campaign.
"The first one of their participation was not 100 per cent as a lot may have had other priorities. But the second one was full force. These consultations were done in the understanding that what they had said and brought up in their views were captured and seen together with the concerns by the ministry and the paper compiled," Mr Naqali said.
Mr Naqalis comments follow concerns from the tuna industry that they were not consulted.
"There is nothing that is being done behind a persons back who needs or is supposed to be consulted so that when the government of the day makes its decision its rational and just," he said yesterday while responding to questions from this newspaper.
Mr Naqali said the ban, once implemented, would have no bearing on the tuna industry.
"It will have no effect on them as sharks are not being targeted. Sharks are not supposed to be a targeted species in all our fishing boats, so when it will be banned it is re-enforcing something thats already in place, therefore it should be easy. Only those who are illegally catching sharks will be affected," he said.
Mr Naqali said infrastructural development could increase when the ban was in place.
He added the benefits of the ban would include the construction of new jetties for fishermen, a boost in tourism and enhancement in fisheries projects like aquaculture, mariculture and inshore fisheries. The spin off was endless, he said.
"Money gained will be through hoteliers getting in tourists who come and utilise services offered in Fiji through hotels who could be doing shark watching, shark feeding.
"Not only fishermen will benefit its across the board," Mr Naqali said.