FIJI has witnessed a constant decline in fish landings, or the total numbers of fish caught, since 2000, specifically of grouper species kawakawa and donu.
This is one of the reasons the SeaWeb Asia Pacific Fiji office has been working to engage more members of the public to get involved in the organisation's 4FJ (For Fiji) Pledge.
The initiative, started last year, is aimed at raising awareness about the spawning, or breeding habits of the fish — they come together in groups to breed — hence their name "groupers".
SeaWeb Fiji program associate Alumeci Nakeke explained that their breeding lifestyle made them particularly vulnerable to overfishing — commercially and even for subsistence use in coastal communities.
Therefore, people are being reminded to take the pledge — sign up and promise not to eat, buy, sell or catch the kawakawa and donu during their breeding periods, which run for four months of the year — June to September.
While Mrs Nakeke notes the fish are indeed very tasty and therefore have an increased value, if you allow them to breed undisturbed during these four months, you can catch, sell and eat them during any other months of the year, just not June to September.
"The campaign is about ensuring we can keep eating them, not to stop eating them. We get that it's a sacrifice, but the reality is if we don't take action, we won't be eating very much of these fish in the future anyway."
People willing to take the pledge are being encouraged to get in touch with SeaWeb Fiji.