On the lookout for poachers

A NEW watchtower on Mali Island, Macuata, will help in guarding the district’s fishing grounds against poachers.

A statement from WWF South Pacific said fish wardens would be stationed at the watchtower giving guards a bird’s- eye view of the fishing grounds and marine protected areas, including both reef systems and mangrove islands.

The statement said while islanders combatted illegal fishing and ensured the effectiveness of protected areas in replenishing oceans, the program contributed to the protection of the 260-kilometre long Great Sea Reef — Fiji’s largest and most complex reef system.

“The Great Sea Reef straddles the two main islands of Fiji, showing reef passages through which whales visit annually,” the statement said.

Project co-ordinator Unaisi Tagicakibau said fish wardens had been identified and trained by the Department of Fisheries.

“They cannot effectively monitor their fishing grounds without proper agencies and this includes the Fisheries Department,” Ms Tagicakibau said.

“A schedule has been drawn up for the fish wardens’ rotation to ensure someone is stationed there.”

Meanwhile, Tui Mali Ratu Meli Bogiso believes guarding their fishing grounds is crucial to their survival.

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