THE vanua of Macuata wants the proposed village bylaw to legalise qoliqoli customary rights owners to dish out penalties against poachers.
The Macuata qoliqoli cokovata committee believes penalising poachers by confiscating their catch and fishing gear would combat poaching activities.
Tui Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katonivere said it was imperative to stop poaching in their qoliqoli, which had become a growing problem.
"And every year, poachers become well-equipped so we need to act now to protect our qoliqoli for our future generation," he said.
"If we do not act now, our future generation will feel the brunt of poaching activities and I have been very vocal about this issue. And I am doing it for the sake of our future generation and I do know that families in coastal villages have already been robbed of their income because of poachers."
The poaching situation has also prompted affected villagers to request the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs to legally empower qoliqoli owners through the village bylaw to seize fishing equipment of poachers.
Another Macuata chief and Tui Nadogo, Ratu Ilisaniti Malodali supported the move by the provincial paramount chief, describing the situation as a struggle.
Ratu Ilisaniti said qoliqoli customary rights owners should be allowed to penalise poachers when arrested.
"Right now, we can't do that except to hand them over to the police but we want to ask for legal powers for our fish wardens. In the past, our forefathers used to confiscate all the sea catch of poachers and break their boats into pieces and it was a good move because poachers never wanted to return to our qoliqoli area," he said.
Efforts to obtain comments from Ministry of iTaukei Affairs permanent secretary Naipote Katonitabua proved futile.
In recent village-bylaw consultations, district reps and traditional leaders made submissions on similar issues.