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By: Kelera Serelini
Traditional leaders need to be passionate about conservation and address issues concerning the protection of their natural resources said Macuata high chief, Ratu Williame Katonivere.
Macuata Province has one of the largest customary fishing grounds in Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island.
The Province, under the traditional fishing grounds of Macuata Qoliqoli Cokovata which encompasses four districts of Dreketi, Macuata, Sasa and Mali, has custodial ownership for a section of the Great Sea Reef, the second longest reef in the world.
“At the traditional leadership level one has to be aware of the issues that would one day affect food sources for our people,” Ratu Williame said during the recent Fisheries Forum attended by representatives from the fishing industry.
“I have read government policies and our Millennium Development Goals and we’re informed that there is a decrease in fish stocks and as a leader, I have to worry about this.” He continued on to say Chiefs need to participate in fora like this as they are the one that help enforce fisheries laws to their people.
We need to help the Ministry of Fisheries to put a structure in place to ensure that our community efforts are recognised and every chief is aware of all the necessary information to effectively manage their resources for the future.”
The Province of Macuata is currently trialling a method to improve fisheries management. They are making it a requirement that all local and commercial fishers operating in the province provide their catch data to the Ministry of Fisheries.
Ratu Williame also stated “I’m also collating data from within my province so that I’m more aware of the resources we have and what we need to protect. I want to take a similar approach with our forest resources. Our people need to be aware that these timbers would be more valuable if they are left alone for our future generation.”
He added, “like the people of Bua, we also share the vision to protect our natural resources and I will use my traditional role to ensure that our efforts are recognised and our future generation also share in the richness of our resources in years to come.