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Marine ecosystem needs to 'breathe'

Sikeli Qounadovu
Saturday, November 04, 2017

ABOUT 51 per cent of seafood is forecasted to be imported by 2030 to feed the growing demand of the rural population in the country, according to the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area network.

And the country's over reliance on the overseas market could further increase if sustainable practices and conservation methods are not encouraged.

The Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area network is calling for sustainable practices to allow the mangrove ecosystem to "breathe".

FLMMA's chairman and technical adviser country networks Alifereti Tawake said there were a few contributing factors that led to the drastic decrease in marine ecosystem.

Mr Tawake said overfishing was one of the major causes and the increase in global temperature was another.

"Our traditional fishing grounds need some space to breathe and the tabu and other locally-managed tools like replanting of mangroves are ways of making it breathe. We need to give it space and time to breathe again," he said.

"Climate change in general makes it worse.

"First, the increase in temperature causes coral bleaching. This affects growth of the coral, which is home to the marine life, and second some type of fish gather in schools during their spawning seasons, and that process is inspired by the water temperature.

"When the temperature is high it affects their spawning season. So, climate change and increase in global temperatures affect the reproductive process of the fish."

Mr Tawake said the marine ecosystem would not be able to sustain the growing demand at the rate things were going.

"What we have right now is not enough with our growing need, we are beginning to see and feel the impact. It's no longer going to support us into the future.

"If we continue with our current trend, if we do not radically change how we see things, our behaviour, our attitude towards the environment and the ocean, we will really end up in that mess.

"But that is a forecast and we can change that. There are some good signs and good examples that are already happening. It requires a change in the mind-set of people, so that we can respect the taboo.

"I think it is also important for a strategic shift that we must look for other alternative sources of protein to relieve the pressure of marine resources."

According to a research by the World Fish Centre and published by the Bio-Medical Centre, Fiji will need 33,200 fish tonnage in 2020 and 37,500 tonnes in 2030 to meet the demand for good nutrition in the country.

Of this, 19,500 tonnes will be consumed in the urban area by 2020 and 24,200 tonnes by 2030.

That is an increase of 50 per cent from the 16,000 tonnes consumed in 2010.

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