Vanua asks for fair deal

Tui Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katonivere. Picture: FT FILE

THE vanua of Macuata confronted owners of commercial fishing companies yesterday about benefits they obtained from international markets compared with what they paid to resource owners. In an exchange of views and issues about the ban on beche-de-mer at the Fisheries Forum held in Labasa on Wednesday, Tui Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katonivere told business people that they received much more when they exported, yet they gave less to resource owners, most of whom were his people of Macuata.

“I understand and I know that you all bring money to the communities, but the reality is that the money you pay my communities is peanuts compared to what you get from selling overseas,” he said.

“I speak for the qoliqoli of Macuata and for my people. For the past 20 years, my people have been selling a bundle of fish for $10 to middlemen, yet my people stay out in the waters overnight and suffer from the cold.

“So you people think you can pay cheap for the fish all this time, it’s not fair at all because resource owners want good houses, good water supply and improve living standards.”

Ratu Wiliame said while they understood the business concept of making profit, commercial operators should increase their buying price from communities.

“We don’t mind issuing fishing licences to you all, but you need to work on a level playing field with us so everyone benefits,” he said.

“And we have conditions on our consent for fishing licences for the qoliqoli of Macuata and we also expect you all to abide by it. “When we respect each other, we can go a long way and work together.”

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