SELLING of sandfish or dairo to export agents is illegal and the Fisheries Department has warned locals who continue to illegally sell the commodity to refrain from such practices.
Divisional fisheries officer northern Gerald Billings said sale of sandfish to export markets had been banned since 1988, yet people continued to sell it to export agents.
"We still receive reports of some locals selling dairo to export agents and that is illegal. Even though it has a minimum fine we are reminding locals to stop selling the sandfish illegally," he said.
"Our team has advised villagers, fishermen and all those involved in selling seafood to export agents to keep away from selling dairo to export markets. Dairo can be sold to local markets for local consumption but not for overseas markets," Mr Billings said.
He added that they were aware that the dairo was being sold to the Asian market through local export agents.
Monitoring of such illegal sale has been done by his team in Vanua Levu.
Mr Billings said the ban was put in place to protect the species and prevent extinction.
"It is also a good source of protein for our locals and that is why we prefer it be kept for local consumption. So we are pleading with villagers and those involved in the fishing business, to protect sandfish and not illegally sell it to export agents."