NZ navy vessel to monitor poachers

Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau arrives at Yaro village on Kia Island in Macuata during his tour of the island on Tuesday. Picture LUKE RAWALAI/FILE

A New Zealand navy ship is expected in the country this month as part of its cooperation with the Fijian Navy to monitor poachers in Cakaudrove waters.

Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau said poaching within Fiji’s maritime zones were no laughing matter, adding it was a serious issue that needed to be addressed.

“The sad thing is that most of these poachers are Fijians themselves that choose to illegally operate outside their permitted fishing areas because of their greed,” he said.

“In their greed, they have not even spared the most far flung islands like this one in Naqelelevu. “Despite several warnings, poachers continue to commit these illegal act and this time we will come down heavily on them.”

During a talanoa session on the island recently, Leonard Loga told the minister that poachers have wiped off coconut crab (Ugavule) population on the uninhabited island of Vetaua close to Naqelelevu.

Mr Loga said they were worried because they would have close to seven ships on the island at a time, making the most of its natural resources.

“We are worried about the situation, but we are helpless since we are only a few on the island and that is why we are requesting assistance from Government,” he said.

“Vetaua Island used to be a sanctuary of Ugavules that have now vanished because of the illegal work of poachers.

“The quicker this issue is addressed, the better for us because there is nothing on this island of Naqelelevu to stop poachers from stealing its marine resources.”

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