Marine Protected Areas Under Threat from Poachers29 March 2012
FIJI - The Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area (FLMMA) Network noted there is no law to protect areas declared marine protected areas from poachers.
FLMMA provides a forum for conservationists and villagers establishing tabu areas to share knowledge, skills, resources and information in order to sustainably manage marine resources, reports TheFijiTimes.
FLMMA secretary, Amelia Pei, said because MPAs or tabu areas were traditionally owned, there was no legislature and enforcement that communities could use to deter poachers.
"Without proper laws, all villagers can do to protect the fishing grounds declared tabu is appoint fish wardens in their communities," Mrs Pei said. She said wardens were trained to perform their duties by the Department of Fisheries. However, with the department reviewing the Fisheries Act, there is hope that laws to protect MPAs will be considered.
"FLMMA has been invited to be part of the consultations for the review of the act and this is where we are looking for laws governing MPAs to be covered," Mrs Pei said. She said with the review of the Act, Fiji would become the first country to have three pieces of legislation governing offshore fisheries, inshore fisheries and aquaculture.
"The offshore fisheries and aquaculture drafts have already been released and we are still waiting for consultations on the inshore legislation to begin," Mrs Pei added.
She said consultations on inshore legislation was due to take place but delays meant that areas declared MPAs would have to be policed by the communities and fish wardens.
TheFishSite News Desk