FIJI's tourism industry has been bolstered with the launch of the first Fiji-made $1.8m sea view underwater vessel at Port Denarau yesterday.
Speaking during the launch of the MV Seaview, Tourism Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the innovation played a key role in increasing tourists.
"I thank the Melanesian Trading Company, to come up with another new exciting adventure in Fiji," said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.
"Tourism requires innovation and new ways of attracting tourism in Fiji because if we don't, the number of tourists will drop and Fiji will not become as exciting as other markets.
"But the wonderful thing about this new initiative is, it combines not by only adding another segment but also by preserving our environment.
"We have to be very careful about our environment because of the growing population and chemical used nowadays.
"One of the reasons many are coming to Fiji is because of the pristine environment, therefore we need to be careful with our resources."
More than 20 i qoliqoli owners of Namotomoto and Navoci villages, police officers and company workers received fishing warden certificates at the launch.
This, after the i qoliqoli owners signed an agreement with the company, waiving their rights over the fishing grounds.
These wardens are to work closely with the company in preventing illegal fishing and activities in the taboo area where the vessel will operate.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the new innovation also signified a new partnership between the company, the landowners and i qoliqoli owners.
"I thank the vanua of Nadi for taking up the initiative and working in collaboration with the company."
"This is a wonderful collaboration and partnership where the members of the i qoliqoli and the business come together not just create jobs but to raise a level of awareness in the environment," he said.
"Environment is a very precious part of our life and we need to protect it."
Company CEO Robert Van Der Moigg, said the vessel took more than nine months to complete and was 100 per cent Fiji-made.
"It has been a very challenging project and we are grateful to all those that played a part, to make this project a success," he said.