Linked IN

Ocean Law Bulletins

Fiji fisheries law update: Ban on importation and exportation of shark fins and live coral

Jul 15, 2019 / by Emily Samuela posted in Oceans Law, Sovereignty, Inshore fisheries, Fiji Oceans, fisheries management, fisheries law, UN Oceans, Oceans Governance, Precautionary Principle, Fiji Sharks, Ministry of Fisheries Fiji, Inshore Fisheries Management Division Fiji, Fiji fisheries laws

The importance of healthy sharks, and coastal marine ecosystems, to Fiji’s economy has been recognised by the Ministry of Fisheries and the Fiji government via new customs laws that have expanded the list of banned imports and exports to include shark fins and live coral.

The importation into Fiji of any goods specified in Schedule 1 of the Customs (Prohibited Imports and Exports) Regulations 1986 is illegal. On Friday, 7 June 2019, by Legal Notice No. 31, the Honourable Minister exercised powers pursuant to section 64 of the Customs Act and expanded the list of Prohibited Imports and Exports in Schedule 1 to include shark fins and live coral.

In this legal bulletin we provide a brief update on what this means for the import and export of shark fin.

Read More

Fiji Inshore Fisheries Management: commitment to conserve grouper and sea cucumber leads to amendments to Fiji’s Offshore Fisheries Management Regulation

Jun 14, 2019 / by Emily Samuela and James Sloan posted in Oceans Law, Beche de mer, Fiji fisheries, Fisheries Act, Underwater breathing apparatus, Marine Conservation, Inshore fisheries, Fiji Oceans, Nearshore Fiji fisheries, Fiji Fisheries Regulations, fisheries law, Sovereign Rights, Integrated Oceans Management Pacific, Pacific Blue Economy, Oceans Governance, Ministry of Fisheries Fiji, Inshore Fisheries Management Division Fiji, Fiji fisheries laws, School of Marine Studies, University of the South Pacific

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.

Read More

Fiji Marine Pollution Law Series - legal consequences of littering and failing to dispose of consumer waste responsibly

Jul 10, 2018 / by James Sloan and Emily Samuela posted in Oceans Law, Fiji mangroves, Fiji fisheries, Marine Conservation, Fiji Oceans, Environmental governance, Fiji lawyers, Fiji marine pollution law, Fiji Environmental law

The largest ocean on earth is also home to the largest collection of floating rubbish/garbage which scientists have coined "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch".

The statistics about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch provide terrifying reading and are summarised by the National Geographic in a recent online article that can be found here. The article explains that the floating garbage weighs 79,000 tonnes and is predominantly plastics originating from both land based (80%) and ocean based activities (20%), includes discarded fishing gear, waste from the 2011 Japanese Tsunami and perhaps most worryingly contains an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic of which microplastics comprise 94%.

One of the solutions to this horrendous human made problem is for each country to regulate and control littering and the failure to responsibly dispose of household and consumer waste. In this 3rd legal bulletin in this Fiji Marine Pollution Law Series, we consider Fiji's legal framework to regulate and control littering.

While outside the scope of this legal bulletin we acknowledge that:

  • other regulatory and innovative solutions must be found globally to reduce or eliminate the use of plastics and find other more environmentally friendly consumer packaging
  • Pacific Islands are not the main cause of this global issue
  • Responsible consumer choices and manufacturing choices are required
  • Fiji has started using innovative mechanisms to discourage the use of plastics like introducing a charge for single use plastic bags.
Read More

Fiji Marine Pollution Law Series - industrial pollution

Jul 9, 2018 / by James Sloan and Emily Samuela posted in Oceans Law, Fiji mangroves, Environmental Management Act 2005, Marine Conservation, Fiji Oceans, The Environment Management Act, Fiji's Constitution, Environmental governance, Fiji law, Nearshore Fiji fisheries, Fiji lawyers, Fiji marine pollution law, Fiji Environmental law

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.

Read More

Fiji Marine Pollution Law Series - Pollution from Ships

Jul 6, 2018 / by Emily Samuela posted in Fiji Oceans, Fiji pollution law, Fiji marine pollution law, Fiji shipping, marine pollution from shipping

Pollution in our oceans is a major cause for concern as it damages the marine environment that we depend on.

Sources of marine pollution are diverse and include pollution from:

  • Ships
  • Land-based activities such as industrial, agricultural and household wastes
  • Overuse of plastics and their careless disposal
  • Dumping of wastes at sea, and
  • Off-shore activities such as deep sea mining - the effects of which seem to be unknown at this point in time.

In the Pacific region, the shipping industry is a vital means of transportation and trade. However, pollution from the shipping industry in Fiji has recently become a trending topic as pictures surfaced on social media showing a ship engaged in deliberately pumping of oil into the Suva harbour. This story was covered in Fiji's press including in this Fiji Times article

About the Fiji Marine Pollution Law Series

In this bulletin we consider Fiji’s national laws and the relevant criminal offences in relation to different types of marine pollution from ships. We note but do not consider in this bulletin the additional International laws that prohibit dumping of waste and other hazardous materials at sea and also regulate oil spillages from ships and other vessels. 

In further legal bulletins as part of the Fiji Marine Pollution Law Series we will consider the law in relation to marine pollution arising from:

  • Industrial sources; and
  • Household waste
We will also consider in a further legal bulletin the high duty of care that polluters may owe to those who suffer damage as a result of marine pollution and hence the potential civil liability of polluters in the common law of negligence and nuisance. This is a separate and cross cutting legal question because in common law jurisdictions like Fiji the polluter owes a high duty of care to avoid causing likely harm to others regardless of whether the polluter is a ship, industrial facility, commercial entity or individual.
Read More

Fiji fisheries law: Could improved regulation of minimum size limits lead to more sustainable fisheries and bigger fish in nearshore and coastal waters?

May 2, 2018 / by Emily Samuela and James Sloan posted in Oceans Law, Fisheries Act, Commercial fishing, Traditional fishing rights, Inshore fisheries, Fiji Oceans, fisheries management, Illegal fishing in Fiji's nearshore waters, Fiji Fisheries decision making, fisheries law, minimum fish sizes

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.

Read More

Fiji fisheries law: When is fishing activity illegal in Fiji's nearshore waters?

Mar 7, 2018 / by Emily Samuela and James Sloan posted in Fiji fisheries, Commercial fishing, Inshore fisheries, Fiji Oceans, Nearshore Fiji fisheries, Illegal fishing in Fiji's nearshore waters

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:

  • limit the type of species of fish or other aquatic animals that can be legally caught
  • prescribes limits to the fishing methods that can be used to capture fish
  • regulates other factors including the minimum size of the fish that may be legally caught and when a fishing licence is required.

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. 

Read More

Fiji’s natural resources: governance and decision-making, the importance of participating

Jan 10, 2018 / by James Sloan posted in Traditional fishing rights, Fiji Oceans, environmental law, The Environment Management Act, Fiji's Constitution, Environmental governance, Environmental decision making, EIA, Environmental Impact Assessments

Fiji is a common law jurisdiction and a constitutional democracy that guarantees its citizens the right to a clean and healthy environment.

Fiji's Constitution and environmental laws also guarantee the rights of those concerned by any development that may have a significant impact on the environment to participate in the decision-making process. 

In this bulletin we consider how those who are concerned may exercise their rights to participate in decisions that will ultimately assist Fiji, its government and people better safeguard the environment, ocean and natural resources that are so vital for its economy and well being. 

Read More

The legal framework for effective Marine Protected Areas in Fiji - the Fiji Environmental Law Association's latest publication

Sep 14, 2017 / by James Sloan posted in Marine Protected Areas, Fiji fisheries, Fisheries Act, Fiji Oceans, fisheries management, administrative law

The Fiji government has made a bold commitment to designate marine protected areas (MPAs) across 30% of its ocean spaces.

Given the well documented threats to all oceans and their resources it is a natural response to create protected areas that restrict the use of certain areas of ocean. The aims for greater protection may be varied and include to protect areas or species of special scientific interest, to preserve bio-diversity, for fisheries management reasons including for food security or to promote resilience to natural disasters and counter the effects of climate change. However, MPAs are designed to restrict the way a designated area of ocean is used, and because of this the designation of a MPA may alter, restrict, reduce, or remove pre-existing rights and commercial interests to use the marine area subject to the designation. As such the creation of MPAs may raise ethical questions and will definitely raise legal questions particularly in the area of administrative law. Last February we published this bulletin that looked at the designation of MPAs from an administrative law perspective.

In September 2017, the Fiji Environmental Law Association (FELA) together with EDO NSW and the University of the South Pacific (USP) has added to the MPA discussion through a study that considers the existing legal framework in Fiji for the creation of MPAs. This study is entitled “Towards an Effective Legal Framework for Marine Protected Areas In Fiji - a Policy and Law Discussion Paper” (ISBN 975-982-01-0965-0), and available now from the USP bookshop.

Read More

The Fiji Environmental Law Association has published a paper that discusses Fiji's path towards Integrated Oceans Management

Sep 10, 2017 / by James Sloan posted in Oceans Law, Integrated Oceans Management Policy, Fiji Oceans

Fiji, like other Pacific Island States, is blessed with large areas of ocean space that contain important and wondrous natural resources. To manage its ocean (60 times larger than Fiji's landmass) is more important than ever given the numerous challenges that our oceans face.

In support of good management, due process and planned decision making the Fiji Environmental Law Association (FELA) together with EDO NSW and the University of the South Pacific (USP) has just published a policy and law scoping paper entitled "Towards an Integrated Ocean Management Policy for Fiji" (ISBN 978-982-01-0964-3) and on sale at the USP bookshop.

It is hoped that this scoping paper will assist Fiji draft its National Oceans Policy Framework and also support an exciting pathway for Fiji to create its own Integrated Oceans Management Policy (IOM Policy) that is adapted to Fiji's legal and governance context.

Read More

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all