‘Chiefs advised to demand goodwill payment’

CHIEFS in the Bua Province say they were advised by previous governments to demand goodwill payment from business operators fishing in their traditional fishing grounds.

Speaking at the consultation for goodwill payment to customary fishing right owners in Bua, Tui Wainunu Ratu Orisi Baleitavea said it was never their idea to demand money from business operators.

Reflecting on a previous Bua provincial council meeting that was held at the Naulumatua House in 1994, Ratu Orisi said they were told by government representatives to demand as much as they could from business operators fishing in their qoliqoli or traditional fishing grounds.

Responding to the statement, Minister for Fisheries Osea Naiqamu said there was a need to regulate the goodwill payments to customary owners so that the owners of traditional fishing grounds and business operators equally benefitted.

Meanwhile, acting principal fisheries officer Central Mere Lakeba said the benefits of regulating goodwill to owners were many, adding that it would ensure equity in the distribution of fishing levies, a more transparent and accountable process, a more effective community-based fisheries management and development, including the formalisation of fishermen associations.

Ms Lakeba said the regularisation processes would also benefit commercial fishers in that it would create a more transparent and accountable process in acquiring consent for fishing permits and licences, creating security in investments.

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