Cousteau backs Fiji conservation campaign
A campaign to save grouper fish stocks in Fiji has received the backing of some high profile individuals.
A campaign to save grouper fish stocks in Fiji has received the backing of some high profile people.
The 4FJ campaign asks people to pledge to forego the fish during the spawning season from June to September in order to help the grouper recover.
Campaign spokesman Scott Radway says the campaign has already received support from the Prime Minister and the Methodist Church and they have now been joined by hotelier and conservationist Jean-Michel Cousteau.
Mr Radway says the support is important as studies show a 70 percent decline in fish catch in 30 years, while 73 percent of Fiji's spawning sites are declining.
SCOTT RADWAY: Because they are gathering this way they are easily over-fished. Historically that wasn't a problem but as food and income needs have increased and population has increased, they become overfished so now we are looking in a 30 year span a 70 percent decline in landings. The campaign is built around the idea that if we were to let them spawn during these these months they would be able to start replenishing the reef and we would have more fish the rest of the year.
KORO VAKA'UTA: Are you getting support for this, given as you mention, that there is greater demand now?
SR: It's been exceptional. Now this is the second year of the campaign, it just began. The June just marked the beginning of the spawning season and we are starting to do public outreach again. In the first year it was extraordinary because something like this hasn't been done in the Pacific and it's been extraordinary. When people understand the problem they get behind the solution so it's largely been an issue of just getting the message out. We have fishermen on our campaign as champions. Just this month we got the Prime Minister to pledge and that's a pretty powerful statement when you have a fisherman standing next to the Prime Minister. We also have the Methodist Church behind us and numerous other high profile individuals.
KV: The latest to join up is a name that is synonymous with marine work across the world and that's Cousteau. Tell us about the latest pledge.
SR: We couldn't be happier to have him on board. Jean-Michel Cousteau runs a resort in Savusavu, Fiji. We approached him to be a part of the campaign given that he obviously has a passion for marine conservation, he is doing this globally. We felt it was a great opportunity to connect with him in a grassroots campaign around fish that communities need for food and income. We've added him and really hope that his arrival.. this campaign has really been internal to Fiji in the sense that in the urban areas to the rural areas it's really been engaging Fijians and this is our move now to really start to engage the visitor sector, the private sector through the visitor industry so it's exciting.
KV: You mentioned it's the second year, the last season, were there some results?
SR: One of our best indicators from the first year is just the pledges. This is what the campaign does, it asks people to pledge not to buy, eat or sell these fish during the spawning season and that's one of our big measures, just the number of people who pledge. We had about 3500 in the first year. That's one indicator and in the Pacific it's not necessarily typical to make public pledges. This is still got to build more and more momentum to really change the market side of this and decrease the demand and then as well really get out to the villages. We are now partnering with the fisheries department and others to get this message out to the village. We've seen great responses, it's kind of humourous, we hear from different sellers now, they actually thought this was now a government ban on the fish during spawning season because the attention has been so heavy.
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