Fishing within the rights area

Tui Levuka Ratu Etonia Seru (far left) accompanies the PM Voreqe Bainimarama in Levuka, Ovalau. Picture: SUPPLIED

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama met government stakeholders this week to discuss fishing within the customary fishing rights area (CFRA) for businesses or trade after concerns were raised by ordinary Fijians.

Issues agreed to at the meeting included the fact that no individual fisher should approach CFROs (customary fishing rights owners) for consent to commercially fish within a CFRA, this could only be done through the divisional commissioner in which the customary fishing rights area was situated.

The Fisheries Ministry proposed a four-tiered reviewed licence fee system where 80 per cent of access fees derived from the issuing of a fishing licence were to be directed to qoliqoli owners CFRO Trust Fund and 20 per cent to Government as administrative fees.

Within the 80 per cent Trust Fund allocation, there was a 30 per cent mandatory allocation for community-based fisheries management monitoring of the marine resources through the existing fish warden system and another 30 per cent mandatory allocation for community based fisheries development with the remaining 40 per cent left to the discretion of the CFRO.

Government, however, encouraged the establishment of scholarship funds for the members of the CFROs.

In an effort to streamline processes, Mr Bainimarama called on the relevant ministries to ensure that apart from the regulated government fees and proposed access fees, no other payment of monies were involved in the licensing and permit processes.

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