New equipment boosts fight against poaching
The equipments that include binoculars, compasses, reflectors, mobile devices and life jackets, funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) through its Fiji Community Development Program (FCDP) was given to fish wardens in Mali district.
Poaching has always been a niggling issue for qoliqoli (fishing ground) owners of Mali, undermining efforts to sustainably manage marine resources through a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Additionally the equipment will also help the community comply with MPA management rules and best practices.
The equipment was handed over to the Mali Development Committee under the “Building Effective Community Driven Governance Systems in Mali District to Enhance Community Access to Food, Income Generating Opportunities and Livelihoods Project.”
WWF-South Pacific Representative Kesaia Tabunakawai saluted the efforts of fish wardens over the past years in protecting their qoliqoli in spite of their lack of resources.
“I commend the hard work the fish wardens have been doing in terms of policing their waters and I hope the equipment will strengthen their work and ensure the better policing and protection of their MPA,” she said. Mali Development Committee Chairman, Savenaca Koliniwai, applauded WWF-South Pacific’s commitment to ensuring Mali’s natural resources are sustainably managed.
“ Baleta na vurevure ni bula e tikoga mai waitui, o ira I Mali kei ira talega I Labasa sara dau bula ga ena qoliqoli nei Mali ka keitou marautaka vakalevu na kena soli na yaya ni yadrayadravi, ka keitou sana tu vakarau me keitou yadrava vakavinaka na I qoliqoli qo baleta ni vurevure tu ni bula vei keimami.”
(The source of our life is at sea. The people of Mali and Labasa as well depend on the qoliqoli of Mali so we are happy about these equipment that protects this source.)
WWF- South Pacific’s Sustainable Landuse and Livelihoods Officer Unaisi Tagicakibau who also manages the Mali project said each of the four villages (Vesi, Ligau, Nakawaqa and Matailabasa) will own a set of equipment.
“They had been using their own resources to patrol their MPAs and over the years have caught poachers in the act and hopefully the equipment will strengthen that work further,” she said.
Fish warden, Jone Koliniwai said people in Mali district are hugely reliant on their marine resources because of land scarcity, restricting farming to purely subsistence.
As such the work of fish wardens in protecting their marine resources is crucial for food security, poverty alleviation and a sustained source of income for many generations of Mali.
“Au se tekivu ovisa ni qoliqoli mai e na 2002, ka au sa raica na kena vinaka na kena taqomaki na I qoliqoli. Au dau nunu talega, ka au sa dau raica na kena sa levu talega mai na ika ena vanua e sega ni taqomaki tiko.”
(I have been a fish warden since 2002 and have seen first-hand the importance of MPA. When I go out diving I have noticed that there are more and more fish in areas that are not protected as a result of spill over effect from the protected areas.)
The Marine Protected Areas of Mali is part of a bigger network of protected areas within the shared fishing grounds of the Qoliqoli Cokovata of Dreketi, Macuata, Mali and Sasa districts, stretching over 1,344 of ocean waters, north of Vanua Levu.
These contribute to the protection of the Great Sea Reef, which is high in marine biota and a focal point for conservation for WWF in the South-Western Pacific region.
The protected areas also contribute to the national target of having 30 percent of its inshore and offshore waters as marine protected areas by 2020 and the global target of 10 percent.
Marine protected areas safeguard Fiji’s natural resources based economy, national incomes, coastal livelihoods and traditional cultures and contributes to commitments under the National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan and the Convention on Biological Diversity.