This is a big year for oceans governance in Fiji and the Pacific. The Fiji government has just published Fiji's first National Ocean Policy (NOP) online and has announced that the NOP will be “enshrined in law” as part of its proposed Climate Change legislation. Fiji will then move towards designating 30% of its 1.2 million km2 of ocean within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as marine protected areas (MPAs) with 100% sustainable management of its EEZ by 2030. These ocean initiatives are line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14 - Life Below Water), and Fiji’s long standing commitments on the world stage.
Fiji’s goal to designate 30% of its EEZ as offshore MPAs presents significant challenges for the Fiji government because - to put it bluntly - this is an expensive initiative. In 2021, more than ever before economies everywhere, and particularly in the Pacific, are suffering. In this context designating MPAs that will alter and limit existing rights and activities, including but not limited to existing fishing practices that contribute to Fiji’s economy, requires both significant political will and long term funding. This funding is essential to undertake a proper process of designating MPAs but more importantly to assist the longer term government burden of regulation of those designated MPAs. This regulatory burden includes the ongoing monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement of Fiji’s EEZ and MPAs across a vast area of Pacific ocean.
In February 2021, the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commission (OPOC), established under the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, Dame Meg Taylor launched an excellent “suite of Ocean reports” with a focus on ocean finance. This focus on ocean finance is well timed to assist PICs to address the major challenge of finding a way to make the protection of its ocean ecosystems both politically and economically viable.
In this bulletin we consider OPOC’s paper “Funding Marine Protection At Scale” and make some respectful recommendations in relation to how to increase the funding within Fiji to assist Fiji's government, acting on behalf of the State, to fund the designation and regulation of MPAs.
The major threats to our oceans are well understood, and include pollution from land based sources.
For a full list of the major threats to our oceans the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) sets them out here and also explains that:
Untreated sewage, garbage, fertilizers, pesticides, industrial chemicals, plastics ... most of the pollutants on land eventually make their way into the ocean, either deliberately dumped there or entering from water run-off and the atmosphere. Not surprisingly, this pollution is harming the entire marine food chain - all the way up to humans.
In this second legal bulletin in the Fiji Marine Pollution Law Series, we consider Fiji’s legal and regulatory framework in relation to marine pollution from land based industrial or commercial activities. For those interested in this area, it should be noted that Mr Filimone Tuivanualevu who is admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of Fiji, has also published a legal bulletin entitled "How does the law protect rivers in Fiji from pollution?" which can be found here.
In further planned legal bulletins in this series we will consider Fiji's laws in relation to marine pollution from household waste and the potential civil liability that polluters who cause harm may incur based on common law negligence.
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.
On, Friday, 19th January 2018 by Legal Notices No. 3 and No. 4 the Honourable Minister for Fisheries exercised his powers pursuant to section 9 of the Fisheries Act, Cap 158 (Fisheries Act) to create two new marine reserves in inshore areas within Fiji’s fisheries waters.
The creation of the marine reserves has been by way of Regulations that are cited as:
Fisheries (Kiuva Marine Reserve) Regulations 2018
Fisheries (Naiqoro Passage Spawning Aggregation Marine Reserve) Regulations 2018.
In this legal bulletin we set out the powers that section 9 of the Fisheries Act provides to the Minister for Fisheries to create and declare marine reserves via Regulations. We also expand on the effect of these new Regulations that have been brought into force by being published (gazetted) in Fiji’s Government Gazette.
As at 2018, there are about seventeen (17) regional and international organisations with offices in Fiji. Some of these not only oversee Fiji programs but also programs in the region and in other Pacific Island Countries.
Apart from these regional and international organisations, there are a multitude of other non-profit entities in Fiji working in areas including protecting the natural environment, children's rights and women's rights. Some of these organisations are not registered in Fiji and operate by way of a memorandum of understanding with the Government of Fiji while others are registered as charitable trusts, as branch offices or as companies limited by guarantee.
There are benefits for non-profit entities by establishing a legal entity under Fiji law and the aim of this bulletin is to consider the two most suitable ways to establish (incorporate) a non-profit entity under Fiji law. These are as a: