A GROUP of villagers in Bua have raised concerns over depleted marine resources in their qoliqoli blaming bauxite as a contributing factor.
The villagers of Naiviqiri District have taken their concern to the chiefs of Bua asking for their assistance in resolving the issue.
District rep Salacieli Tuala claims bauxite that accidently went into the sea during the loading process was harming marine life.
"We appreciate what the company has brought to our shores especially the development for the province of Bua and for the nation."
"But we are concerned of our welfare and our future generation and we are asking the company to at least carry out their processes of doing business in a way that will not affect our daily supply of food like the sea food," Mr Tuala said.
He said villagers have had to find new areas to fish and collect mussels for their daily sustenance.
"The area where the jetty sits and its surrounding were popular areas of fishing for our women. "
"But now they have to go elsewhere, out into the deeper area of the sea to catch fish and this means hiring of boats and extra costs."
"Even us men, we have to move into the deeper part of the sea to collect sea food for our families," Mr Tuala said.
Bauxite mine manager Basilio Vanuaca said they have followed proper procedures in off-loading bauxite to the barge.
"There is abundant fish in and around the jetty. Lekutu River is close to our jetty and during rainy days, spews of soil gather in and around the areas of where these women and our own employees get kaikoso and dio."
"Having said that we see these women with 5-6 large bags of dio, kaikoso and fish every week to sell to Labasa market."
"We only ship bauxite three times at a duration of not more than 15 days each. It has rained far more than that and women are there in the sea daily," Mr Vanuaca said.
He said bauxite had been flowing into the sea even before it was termed as bauxite.
"So I am not sure how they have concluded that bauxite is what causes this issue they are raising."
Divisional fisheries officer northern Gerald Billings yesterday said they were not aware of the matter.
He said they would only look into the matter if villagers lodged a formal complaint with the department.