The 4FJ Fish Smart Campaign

The 4FJ Fish Smart Campaign safeguarding all our future generations. Picture: SUPPLIED

Bula readers, today I thought I would write about a very worthwhile organisation that has been working with the general public, individuals and corporates Fiji wide who are associated and involved in fishing.

The 4FJ campaign was created by cChange and initially targeted to promote food security and livelihoods for locals through better fishing practices.

The campaign was set out to revive fishing grounds and protect certain fish in our ecosystem.

The 4FJ campaign originally launched in 2014 was to help revive kawakawa and donu fisheries, by asking people to pledge not to eat these fish stock during their peak spawning months of June to September.

After tens of thousands of pledges from people across all walks of life, there is now a four-month legal ban in place to stop fishing the kawakawa and donu fish during this time, ultimately by stopping fishing from June to September these fish will get a chance to reproduce and vastly increase fish stock.

Today, the campaign enjoys broad support from traditional leaders, communities, the business sector, faith-based organisations plus government and cChange has now successfully mobilised people across a wide spectrum of society to revive kawakawa and donu fish stock.

This is where the 4FJ Fish Smart champions has been introduced, the new campaign is asking individuals to make the pledge to avoid undersized fish to let them breed and working with communities to encourage fish smart practices.

The Fish Smart Champions have been chosen from a very high-profile list of individuals Fiji wide which includes people such as television personality and master chef Lance Seeto, Minister of Fisheries Semi Koroivalesau and Fiji 7s national team head coach Gareth Baber, who I am sure will be great champions in promoting this worthy campaign.

I have also been selected as one of the Fish Smart Champions, but in my case I am certain that it was by mistake and a situation of the invitation being sent to the wrong person, but regardless of this I will do my best to also promote the core values of the campaign.

According to one recent study, it took one to two hours per day in the 1980s to catch enough fish for an entire village. By 2000, Fiji fishers could only catch enough fish for their families.

Today, fishers can spend 10 to 12 hours, and only catch a small limited amount of fish. There is indeed something wrong somewhere.

The campaign is reaching out to communities to encourage them to fish smart, which means establishing and respecting tabu, avoiding harmful fishing practices, avoiding undersize fish and protecting spawning seasons and spawning sites.

To help communities, everyone needs to assist, and those not in communities, in our urban areas, can help by saying no to undersize fish.

You need to help communities by ensuring more fish get big enough to breed and restock our reefs.

That goes for shellfish too and crabs.

Let them breed, have more later.

The new 4FJ Pledge is; 1. Take the 4FJ pledge to avoid undersize fish; and 2.

Help spread that message to your networks. Let them breed. Have more later.

That’s how we help our fishers feed their families and earn income.

As the campaign slogan states, “We came together to help kawakawa and donu thrive, now let’s help the rest”.

In this campaign, I believe another good slogan is “united we stand divided we fall”, because if we say no to undersize fish now, we will be giving a chance to our future generations to enjoy the natural resources of our ocean.

Finally, I believe this campaign has been very well thought out with its simple and effective message.

My congratulations to cChange for another outstanding campaign.

  • Ajay Bhai Amrit is a freelance writer. The views expressed in this article are not necessarily shared by this newspaper

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