19 February, 2016, 12:00 am
THE Fisheries Act has been silent for a long time on the issue of fisheries goodwill payment to qoliqoli owners since its implementation in 1942.
Speaking to customary fishing right owners in Bua on Vanua Levu on Wednesday, Minister for Fisheries and Forests Osea Naiqamu said there was a dire need for the payment processes to be regularised for the sake of transparency.
Mr Naiqamu said this was one of the reasons the Fisheries Department saw it fit to consult with customary fishing right owners on the issue.
He reminded fishing right owners that it was clear that the sea was owned by the Government.
He added the customary fishing right owners had the right to use marine resources for their personal use.
Reflecting on the Fisheries Act, Mr Naiqamu said this was a law that was established in 1942.
Therefore, Mr Naiqamu said the ministry thought that it was time to regulate processes used to exploit resources.
Mr Naiqamu said he was asked in Parliament about the powers he had to regulate processes.
He said he did not have any powers, which were evident in the consultations that were being held in the 14 provinces within the country, to involve customary fishing right owners.
Mr Naiqamu apologised to customary fishing right owners for the rash discussions on the topic in Parliament adding that their rights to use of their resources was still paramount to his ministry.