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Ocean Law Bulletins

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.

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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.

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The management of Fiji’s nearshore fisheries will benefit from a good decision making process leading to Fisheries Regulations

Mar 21, 2018 / by Emily Samuela and James Sloan posted in Beche de mer, Fiji fisheries, Fisheries Act, Commercial fishing, Marine Conservation, Traditional fishing rights, Inshore fisheries, administrative law, Fiji's Constitution, Environmental governance, Nearshore Fiji fisheries, Fiji Fisheries decision making, Fiji Fisheries Regulations

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.

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Fiji's Minister for Fisheries has created two new Marine Reserves with Regulations made under powers conferred by section 9 of the Fisheries Act, 1941

Jan 30, 2018 / by James Sloan posted in Marine Protected Areas, Fiji fisheries, Fisheries Act, Traditional fishing rights, Inshore fisheries, administrative law, Environmental decision making, Fiji law

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.

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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.

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When can a fishing licence be revoked or refused for non-compliance with fisheries laws in Fiji’s fisheries waters?

Aug 30, 2017 / by James Sloan posted in Fiji fisheries, Fisheries Act, Revocation of Fiji fishing licence

A cornerstone of the regulation of Fiji’s inshore fisheries is that it is a criminal offence to engage in commercial or sports fishing in Fiji’s fisheries waters without a fishing licence.

At present, fishing licences for all areas of Fiji’s fisheries waters are granted and regulated by the Ministry of Fisheries under the Offshore Fisheries Management Decree 2012 and Offshore Fisheries Management Decree Regulations, 2014. However, for traditional fishing grounds (qoliqoli areas) the Ministry of Fisheries grants commercial fishing licences under the Fisheries Act 1942, and Regulations (as amended). The key difference is that before the Ministry of Fisheries will issue a licence to fish within a qoliqoli area a permit is required from the relevant Divisional Commissioner who before granting such a permit is required by law to consult with the holders of the traditional fishing rights for that qoliqoli area. Commercial fishing licences for Fiji fisheries waters outside qoliqoli areas do not require this additional pre-condition.

In this bulletin, we consider the powers of the Ministry of Fisheries to revoke an inshore fishing licence when the holder of the licence has not complied with Fiji’s fisheries legislation. This requires consideration of both the powers under Fisheries Act, 1942 and the Offshore Fisheries Management Decree, and principles of administrative law that underpin decisions to grant and revoke fishing licences.

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The evolution of fisheries law in Fiji - an overview of the law and governance systems as they apply to inshore fisheries

Feb 28, 2017 / by James Sloan posted in Oceans Law, Fisheries Act

Inshore fisheries law and governance is a complex topic that requires consideration of Fiji’s unique culture and historical background. In this overview we consider the evolution of Fiji’s inshore fisheries law and governance context, as understanding it is an important tool in the management of Fiji’s inshore fisheries . We aim to describe this rich nuanced system that is based on a balance of customary rights and centralized regulation.

This is a summary of a presentation provided to the Fiji Environmental Law Association and the Department of Fisheries, Coastal Fisheries Management Legal Development Forum held at the Tanoa Hotel, Suva 10-12 February 2016.

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The law on the use of Underwater Breathing Apparatus (UBA) in Fiji's inshore fishing industry

Feb 19, 2017 / by James Sloan and Filimone Tuivanualevu posted in Oceans Law, Beche de mer, Fisheries Act

On 1 December 2016, the Honourable Minister for Fisheries, Mr Semi Koroilavesau announced that the use of underwater breathing apparatus (UBA) to harvest and export bêche-de-mer (BDM), the processed and traded form of sea-cucumber, would no longer be permitted under Fiji law.

The reports in Fiji’s press have characterised this as a ban on BDM harvesting using UBA, and this has led to some in the fishing industry questioning the jurisdiction and legality of such a directive.

In this bulletin we consider the legal basis for denying permission for the use of UBA for harvesting BDM, set out other laws relating to the harvesting of BDM, and briefly consider why it is important to uphold the law on the use of UBA to harvest BDM which has been in force from 1997.

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