THE people of the district of Suva in Suvavou and Waiqanake as well as those from the district Vutia are concerned about the large areas of mangroves that are being cut down in the Suva Peninsula to make way for development.
In a letter signed by Filipe Tuisawau from the yavusa Burebasaga, Tui Suva Metuisela Mudunavosa and the mata ni tikina o Vutia, Ravuama Lalanabaravi, called on the government to hold public consultations on the destruction of mangroves in Suva.
This, they said, should also involve residents of Draunibota in Lami and Nasese in Suva.
"As a traditional fishing rights owners and original landowners, we would like to express our serious concerns at the continued abuse and destruction of the natural environment in the Suva Peninsula areas," said the letter to acting Lands permanent secretary Tevita Boseiwaqa.
"We refer in particular to the permanent destruction of mangrove areas for development lease purposes and the possible alienation of these areas permanently, especially the expression of interest for the development of State tiri land at Nasese along the Queen Elizabeth Drive and Walu Bay along Edinburgh Drive."
The men expressed concern at the mangroves that have been destroyed in Lami and Fletcher Rd in Vatuwaqa and Raiwai.
"We do understand that these areas are State-owned but please note that these areas were owned by the Suvavou and Rewa people originally.
"They are also subject to land claims by us the original landowners and indigenous people of Fiji and will continue to be so."
The letter requested an urgent moratorium on all expression of interest or development leases on tiri lands and foreshores of the Suva Peninsula, saying although the tiri areas might be State-owned their destruction affected the fisheries "of us the indigenous Kai Viti of the Suva Peninsula".
In response, Mr Boseiwaqa said the application for foreshore development might now be put on hold unless under special circumstances.
"The Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources is now working with relevant government and non-government agencies in reviewing the Mangrove Management Plan 1985-1986 to ensure the preservation and sound management of mangroves," he said.