THE Fisheries Department has issued a stern warning to fishermen in the north who are operating without a fishing licence to stop illegal fishing.
Divisional Fisheries Officer Northern Joji Vakawaletabua was responding to concerns from fishermen in Labasa over the delay of issuing fishing licences.
This resulted in some continuing to fish after they were tired of waiting for the Fisheries Department to renew their licences.
Mr Vakawaletabua said people should be mindful that the applications were sent to the commissioner northern's office who gave the permit before the department issued the licences for the respective applicants.
"It is hectic for the commissioner's office as he receives all applications from the three provinces and it will take time but people should be patient because they should have applied for their renewal last year as it only cost $6.05," said Mr Vakawaletabua. "They should be mindful that we will monitor the fishermen out at sea and will ensure that those fishing without proper licences are dealt with.
"The ministry will not accept the fact that fishing licences are still to be renewed by our department since they were given ample time last year to renew their licences."
The Macuata Qoliqoli Cokovata Committee, last month started working with stakeholders from Viti Levu to buy fish directly from fishermen and not middlemen. Chairman Ratu Aisea Katonivere had said the move to involve stakeholders (food manufacturing companies) was to benefit resource owners and fishermen using the qoliqoli of Macuata.
The deal will see the non-inclusion of middlemen with fishermen and resource owners benefitting from the partnership.