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Ministry ruling to protect coral reef fish species

Monday, July 17, 2017

THE Ministry of Fisheries has already compiled a regulation for the protection of grouper and coral trout fish species.

A statement from the ministry after a recent study by the research division of the Fisheries Ministry, the Science and Conservation of Fish Aggregations (SCRFA), and the University of Hong Kong revealed the need to focus protection against any commercial use for both species during spawning periods

The study recommended that if Fijians intended to protect the kawakawa and donu stock, they needed to strictly adhere to the seasonal bans that would be placed on both species from June to September next year.

"Since it is important to balance the needs of fishermen to fish and the interests of coastal communities into the future of these important food and commercial fish species with the fish need to breed, protection against any commercial use during spawning season is vital," the research concluded.

"However, the best alternative management and conservation measure for these groupers (kawakawa) and coral trout (donu) is to completely ban the fishing of these highly targeted coral reef fish species during their peak spawning seasons.

"The Ministry of Fisheries has already compiled a regulation for the proposed protection of these grouper and coral trout during the four months peak spawning seasons across Fijian coral reef systems."

The joint study also found that the Mali Passage grouper aggregation site was now non-functional and no longer formed because of uncontrolled fishing.

"Surveys were conducted out of Lakeba and Vanuabalavu, around Viti Levu, in the Yasawas and in northern Vanua Levu," the research paper revealed.

Fiji had signed its commitment to the seasonal ban on the fishing and sale of kawakawa during its peak breeding months during the UN Ocean Conference in New York, last month.

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