On Wednesday, 12 June 2019, by Legal Notice No. 32 ("Legal Notice"), the Minister of Fisheries in exercise of his powers amended the Offshore Fisheries Management Regulations 2014 and introduced seasonal bans of species of sea cucumbers, groupers and coral trout with effect from 1 June 2019.
The exercise of the Honourable Minister of Fisheries' powers reflects the growing public concern for the health and sustainability of Fiji's inshore fisheries, the ongoing success of Fiji's 4FJ public awareness campaign and the commitment and vision of Fiji's Ministry of Fisheries working with various NGOs and academics to take action to conserve and manage Fiji's vital fisheries resources for future generations in line with Fiji's commitments to the United Nations Ocean Conference.
In this bulletin, we set out the amendments to the law that are now in force, and briefly discuss the factors that have led to the implementation of this conservation initiative.
The sustainable management of Fiji’s coastal fisheries is vital for national well-being and food security. One intuitive solution to improve nearshore and coastal fisheries is to enable fish to reach sufficient maturity so they have had the chance to breed before they are caught - in other words the adoption and enforcement of suitable minimum size limits.
The Fisheries Act, 1941 and Fisheries Regulations, at present, regulate nearshore fisheries using various mechanisms that include how fish may be caught, licensing and minimum fish sizes. However, recent work by fisheries scientists in Fiji suggest that the Regulations are out of date and not fit for purpose in the Fiji context. Fisheries scientists suggest that at present too many coastal and nearshore fish are being caught before they reach maturity and this is one reason that is contributing to a decline in Fiji's coastal and nearshore fish stocks.
In this bulletin, we consider the current law on fish sizes and the work being undertaken by fisheries scientists and the Ministry of Fisheries to address the question of what minimum sizes of fish should be caught in its coastal and nearshore waters.
Under Fiji law, the Charitable Trusts Act, 1945 (Charitable Trusts Act) provides the legal process to incorporate (establish) a charitable trust. The incorporation of a charitable trust creates a legal "person" that may amongst other things: employ people, hold a bank account, secure office premises, enter contracts and sue and be sued.
To comply with section 2 of the Charitable Trusts Act, the proposed charitable trust must comply with one of the limited number of "charitable purpose[s]" set out in the Charitable Trusts Act. On Wednesday, 7 March 2018 by Legal Notice No. 14, the relevant Minister in exercise of his powers under the Charitable Trusts Act expanded the categories of "charitable purpose" to include:
· the conservation of the environment; and
· the provision of electricity to rural communities and households in Fiji that do not have such access.
Healthy stocks of fish and other aquatic animals in Fiji’s nearshore waters are vital for the nation’s well-being and food security needs. Healthy stocks are also a priority for the Ministry of Fisheries and Honourable Minister for Fisheries, Semi Koroilavesau who speaking in Parliament recently explained that the Ministry would refocus its efforts on nearshore and coastal fisheries with the aim of balancing development with national and local needs.
The good regulation of fishing activity in nearshore waters is part of the answer to improve fish stocks.
In this legal bulletin we consider the current nearshore fisheries regulatory regime and discuss how the use of Fisheries Regulations could improve fisheries management. The use of regulatory powers is an exercise of public law and as such Fiji’s common law system requires a careful and consultative decision-making process.
Fishing in nearshore waters in Fiji is a common activity, however, it is not always easy to tell when that activity is lawful or unlawful.
Fiji is a common law jurisdiction and accordingly wild fish and other marine organisms in their uncaptured state belong to nobody and the principle ferae naturae applies. However, legislation can and does:
In this bulletin we consider the fisheries legislation that is applied to nearshore waters and how it applies to different types of nearshore fishing activity with the aim of better explaining what could constitute illegal fishing activity in nearshore fishing waters. Please note this legal bulletin is prepared on the basis of the Fisheries Act, 1941 and the Fisheries Regulations as they are at the present time, and we are aware that the Ministry of Fisheries is reviewing this legislation with a view to updating it to better manage Fiji's important fisheries resources.