Preparatory talks for Fiji’s National Sustainable Seafood summit rides the airwaves.
The discussions are a lead up to a one and half day’s National Sustainable Seafood summit scheduled for September 28th -29th and focuses on facilitating effective dialogue and partnerships between national stakeholders in the seafood industry.
WWF-Pacific’s Conservation Director Mr Francis Areki said there is a need for urban consumers in Fiji to be aware of where and how the seafood they consume is harvested.
“All seafood consumers in Fiji have a responsibility to ensure that what they are purchasing from seafood sellers is being harvested sustainably and more importantly not support those that sell undersized seafood commodities in our markets. If urban consumers provide a market for unsustainably harvested seafood, fishermen will continue to supply this and in the long run reduce abundance in our fishing grounds, which threatens our food supply and income for our communities as well,” he said.
Speaking on the need to raise more awareness and visibility on the ground on the threat to ocean resources, Director Fisheries, Mr Aisake Batibasaga said the summit is timely and sheds light on the importance of working towards policy reforms that would reverse the current trend.
“What we are trying to do is to connect all the dots with the supply chain, in addition to the demand and supply on what we get out of the sea and how we are able to present that information to affect change at all levels,” Mr Batibasaga said.
Highlighting examples from campaigns such as the call to ban the sale of groupers (kawakawa and donu) Batibasaga said stakeholders such restaurants and resorts can also play a prominent role in supporting these national campaigns.
“Restaurants and Resorts have an important role to play, so if they know that it’s spawning season for groupers, they can support the cause by putting in place internal checks and balances to not buy them in a bid to save their population,” Mr Batibasaga said.
Similar sentiments were also expressed by WWF’s Pacific Community Development Officer, Mr Metui Tokece.
“WWF-Pacific has been working with project communities in Macuata and Ba in supporting the campaign on species within the grouper family namely kawakawa, kasala and donu and the support has been growing from the awareness raised within the communities but more needs to be done in re-educating our consumers on the threats to these species.”
Mr Tokece said the summit will bring together community representatives and other stakeholders such as government, civil society organization (cso’s) and the private sector to highlight the importance of re-investment into sustainable fisheries management and sustainable markets.
The Fiji National Sustainable Seafood Summit is organized by Ministry of Fisheries and WWF and is funded by the Lucille & Packard Foundation and is themed “ Steering Inshore Fisheries towards a sustainable future from source to plate.”
The event will be held at Suva’s Studio 6 conference room.