I was reading the numerous 'Your Say' from the Fiji Times, about the turtle-catch in Macuata but the writers got onto all sorts of topics. One was of interest. Fishermen from Batiki were taking their catch to the market - to buy goods for their wives and children and were stopped, their boat confiscated, their catch taken from them. Seems a bit like spite or over-jealousness on the part of the fisheries dept guys. Why don't they chase those hugely rich Chinese fishermen who probably pay bribes to suck the sea dry of sea creatures in the vicinity of Fiji!
From Fiji Times Your Say – about tauvu fishermen from Batiki
TK of Raiwai of Fiji (11 hours and 3 minutes ago)
Last Friday early morning the fisheries officers and the navy in two boats stopped six boys from Batiki in the village of Manuku on their way back to Suva. They confiscated everything that includes the one week old boat and the engine, 96 bundles of fish and all their diving gears and leave them with nothing. They dive from their own qoliqoli and brought it to Suva to sell so they can buy their family groceries to take back to the village and their payment of their license. Of all the six only one was charged for ILLEGAL FISHING and will be appearing in court very soon but the point here is; What is illegal here when they fish from their own qoliqoli? They have the approved letter signed by two chiefs who are the heads of the qoliqoli to fish from there. This is the only source of livelihood from that island which is very very poor compared to Macuata where land resource is very limited to family consumption only.They confiscated all things and sold these fishes right in front of our very own eyes and gave us nothing, it is like living in Somalia or Africa in what is happening. The sweat of a whole sleepless night for our wives and children has been robbed by people who are hiding behind the law and say that they are the law.Can you allow these boys to go and rob for their living? Who will take care of these families now when all has been hold up in the police and navy? These are uneployed boys who comes from very poor background that are struggling to make ends meet in their everyday living only to be stopped by some stupid people who does not know or experience a life living in poverty or to struggle. The funny thing is they have sold the fish and what will be tendered as evidence in the court of law? What is illegal fishing anyway and why charge only one when six boys did the diving? Is the law being implemented correctly here or is it on a bias course? How do they prove that this boys fish illegally? They have provided evidence that they fish from their own qoliqoli which rightly belongs to them but without even a warning they did what they did and is causing a very big problem to some families and children who do not deserve to be treated this way!This is ungodly and it is a devilish work of inexperienced people working in the wrong place. How can people who do not have qoliqoli knows how people from outer islands feel in struggling everyday to survive in the village? And some outer islands are very very poor in land that they totally rely on the sea as their main source of income to send children to school and go through life everyday. Not all the islands are the same! Three of this boys are stuck here in Suva and the wives and children at the village waiting for their dad to come back with some groceries only to be told of what happens! What is happening to our Fiji? Is this illegal fishing? Very soon you will pull a bunch of cassava from your own backyard only to be told it is illegal. What a funny law.
The Fiji Times picked up this story and here is a photo they used of Batiki fishermen, Tevita Tavodi, left, Meli Tavodi and Usaia Tanuku with the letter of consent from the Tui Manuku.