1.2 tonnes of fish seized

The banned Kawakawa fish species. Picture: FT FILE

ABOUT 1200 kilograms or 1.2 tonnes of illegal catches has been seized by the Fisheries Ministry of which 600 kilograms are of the banned species donu and kawakawa.

A ministerial statement said fish caught by the ministry’s enforcement personnel were preserved for evidence in legal proceedings brought against the accused parties.

Since accused parties have a right to these seized catches including their gear, there was no room for any misuse of the catches by State officers, the statement read.

“Should fisheries officers or personnel encounter a breach to any of our regulations, everything caught, presented for sale or used in the commission of the offence can be confiscated and this includes the fishing gear, boats and anything used to store the illegal fish and the catch itself,” the statement said “All the illegal catch is retained by the ministry pending formal action, while all confiscated property, such as fishing gear and vessels, are documented and transferred to the Fiji police.

“Confiscated fish is measured, counted and weighed and the details are recorded to ensure an accurate record of the confiscated catch is maintained.

“The ministry has standard forms and processes to support that these confiscated catches are securely retained at the nearest available fisheries centre pending the completion of any formal action taken for the purpose of counting, measuring or weighing to ensure documentation of the confiscated fish is complete.”

The statement said it disposed of confiscated fish only after formal action had been concluded.

“The ministry has a clear process for the disposal and destruction of confiscated fish and seeks where ever possible to return the benefits of illegal fish back to the people of Fiji or the ecosystems that support them,” the statement said.

“This is consistent with the ministry’s mandate to sustainably manage the fisheries resources on behalf of the people of Fiji.

“All people and businesses, including restaurants and exporters, are banned from offering or selling kawakawa and donu during the ban period.”

More Stories