14 September, 2014, 12:00 am
SOCIAL Democratic Liberal Party candidate Nirmal Singh says there has been a number of misconceptions and lies spread about the Qoliqoli Bill.
Mr Singh told party supporters in Narere, Nasinu the qoliqoli (traditional fishing ground) had been there since Independence and it was not something new.
Giving an example, he said when fishermen wanted to fish as a business, they had to seek consent from the qoliqoli owners.
“Unless a fisherman produces a letter of consent from the qoliqoli owner, the Fisheries Department will not issue a licence and this has been happening under the Bainimarama government as well. And to obtain a letter of consent you have to pay goodwill to the qoliqoli owner,” he claimed.
“What the SODELPA government will do is to bring the qoliqoli under a legal structure that recognises the ownership of qoliqoli and it will protect the interest of the qoliqoli owner as well as those who use qoliqoli for commercial exploitation.”
Mr Singh said no one would restrict people from using the qoliqoli for leisure and for food to sustain their family.
“There will be no restriction if people are catching fish and other seafood for their family and there will be no restriction in accessing the sea and beachfront. What we are going to do is to ensure that qoliqoli owners benefit from commercial exploitation of their qoliqoli.
“The SODELPA government will consult widely with all stakeholders including other political parties before coming up with appropriate legislation that is acceptable and fair to all the people of Fiji.
“We want to assure our people that the Qoliqoli Bill will not stop you from going to the sea, catching fish and other seafood for food and other activities which are not commercial in nature,” said Mr Singh.