THE government is serious about protecting the ocean as it joins in the fight against illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing in the region.
Acting Minister for Environment Colonel Timoci Natuva, while opening the Coral Triangle Fisheries Forum II at Novotel in Lami yesterday, said like other Pacific Island Countries, Fiji had a crucially intimate relationship with the ocean.
"It's our lifeblood, our very existence, so protecting our fisheries helps protect the ocean. We also boast the best and last remaining healthy tuna stock in the world and we want to keep it that way."
He encouraged participants at the CTFF to cultivate practical solutions to specific challenges.
Col. Natuva said governments of the Coral Triangle Network Initiative had adopted strong measures to implement specific actions recommended by CTFF at its 2010 forum to mitigate bycatch in fisheries.
"A notable example is the 2010 executive order issued by the government of the Philippines for the full transition of fishing fleets to the use of circle hooks as a way of reducing by-catch impact on marine turtles," he said.
"Last year, Papua New Guinea began new work to research and test circle hooks and other mitigation methods as a means of developing an optimum mitigation strategy for bycatch in longline fleets.
"Here at home, I understand that a similar project is being implemented."
He added he looked forward to the discussions and recommendations by the CTFF at the end of the forum on Friday.