Thursday, September 07, 2006
Qoliqoli - fishing
Silver seas, mangroves and shorelines
Yesterday I was asked what I thought about the Qoliqoli Bill. I haven't read it yet but I am glad the subject is coming out into the open for discussion. I am writing about our love of the sea, especially the fishermen tribes, such as the Lasakau on Bau Island. This is relevant to the current discussions about the Qoliqoli Bill in the Fiji Parliament.
Qoliqoli means fishing, so it really is about fishing in Fiji waters. It is about how to negotiate a mutual agreement between traditional Fijians who live by the sea and the developers such as for hotel and resort purposes. We hope that everyone can benefit out of this bill. A win-win for all concerned.
When I arrived at Bau land a couple of weeks ago I noticed how unspoit and undisturbed the shoreline was with mangroves still intact. It had not been changed and women could still go fishing, looking for crabs and shellfish. We were on our way to the chiefly island of Bau with a group of Conference representatives. There were ten of us in the 40 hp outboard boat going through the calm water of the Waisiliva sea . (Silver)
It came in my mind the famous song 'Ena dela ni wai siliva, lei Bau na kemui rorororo.' Which means - You are famous Bau, surrounded by the silver sea. And the other song the Centenary Choir used to sing when they visited Melbourne, 'Au kacivi ira levu na luvequ tu yawa mera levu tale mai ena vanua ni tadra ' - Calling back the sons and daughters of Fiji to think about our homeland.
Last year I was at the Conference held in Nadi at Narewa village. This was quite a contrast to Bau island. They had built a new church which cost $3 million, built in the centre of the village. The people have ready-made wealth from the tourist resort developments at Denarau and the township of Nadi.
But what I noticed was that the men and women now had limited access to their shorelines and sea resources. Denarau with its alternations of the shoreline meant that the mangroves were pulled out for the sake of development. The villages around Nadi are neat and tidy and well developed because of the development leases.
Next year the Conference will be held in Macuata and most likely in Naduri, a village beside the sea where the Tui Macuata lives. This is babasiga land in the midst of sugar-cane growing land and the shoreline is mainly mangroves. We have written about the Tui Macuata's concern for the Great Reef and the tabu on it.
My concern is appropriate development of our shorelines and the sea, respect for the reefs as well as enjoyment of the beauty.