Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tradition versus conservation

from w
I guess there is a difference between the thinking of the over 40s and the under 40s regarding the turtle. I hope children are learning these days the value of conservation.
The Tui Macuata did have a dilemma because he was honoured recently for his views on conservation and the tabu on the Great Sea Reef, but the tabu was lifted for one week, and the repercussions, at least in the Fiji newspapers, has been rather agitated.

From Fijilive
Tradition before conservation: Macuata
Thursday September 13, 2007
The Macuata Province on Vanua Levu, Fiji's second largest island could withdraw from its marine conservation projects if the issue of the 84 endangered turtles killed in the province becomes "personalised", says Assistant Roko Tui Macuata, Mosese Nakoroi.

And he said that traditional values are more important than current conservation programmes adding that it was the "traditional right" for Methodist church members in Macuata to use as many turtles they please for traditional feasting. "It is our traditional right to serve turtles for feasting during traditional gatherings and it is only the vanua who can change this," Nakoroi said.

This statement comes despite the Macuata Province being commended internationally for its conservation work after Macuata high chief, Tui Macuata Ratu Aisea Katonivere, was honoured in New York in June 2006 for the province's efforts in protecting its marine areas. However, Nakoroi who is also the Macuata Provincial Council's Qoliqoli Committee advisor said the province was willing to forgo its conservation efforts for the right of "the vanua" (province and its people) to traditionally hunt the protected turtles, some which are in the critically endangered list.

He also acknowledged that it was "illegal" to catch the turtles without a permit "from the Government's point of view as it is contrary to the moratorium", but "the vanua went ahead and caught them anyway because it is their traditional right to do so".

Members of the Methodist Church from the northern provinces of Macuata, Bua and Cakaudrove had asked permission to catch 20 turtles for "traditional" use with the Macuata Provincial Office seeking a "blanket approval", to feast on turtles during the 3-day long conference.

The Director of Fisheries Sanaila Naqali said a permit was given for the capture of only five turtles due to the critical endangered nature of the turtles. He also said that he fears that more than 84 turtles were slaughtered during the conference.

However, Nakoroi claims the Provincial Office had received no official notification from the Fisheries Department to date on the permit so the villages went ahead and began capturing the turtles.

Fisheries officers and representatives of the global conservation group, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Pacific, who were present for the conference, reported that the permit was grossly violated with around 82 critically endangered Green and Hawksbill turtles killed for feasting by church members.

Nakoroi even makes an allegation that Fisheries officers present misinformed the province by stating that an approval was given for each church in Macuata to fish one turtle each.

"These two officers stayed at my house for a night and they told me that every church in Macuata can catch one turtle each," he alleged.

"There are more than a 100 churches in Macuata and we can say that we did what we knew was right."

Nakoroi said the province did not see any wrongdoing "from the eyes of the vanua" in slaughtering the extra 79 turtles for which there was no permit given.

Naqali has promised that his department will come hard on the offenders who have violated the moratorium in place, which prohibits the fishing of the endangered turtles without a licence.

To this Nakoroi has warned that the province will consider withdrawing from all of its conservation programmes if "there are any legal matters brought on this matter".

He said the rights of the traditional peoples of Macuata are paramount and they are entitled fulfil their traditional duties.

Letter to the editor, Fiji Times
Who is to blame

THERE has been a lot of comment on who is to blame for the over-catch of turtles at Macuata for the Methodist Church conference. I believe that if the departments of Fisheries and Energy, WWF and other organisations that look after endangered creatures had been doing the right thing, this would not be an issue. They should understand that turtles are an important magiti in any traditional event and any catch determines the prowess of the fisherman. If these organisations want the fishermen to change their way of thinking, then they need to do more than just speak through the media. Sending the culprits to jail will not safeguard the lives of turtles.
Ravulolo Tagivetaua

Turtles ours, say conference hosts
Thursday, September 13, 2007

THE people of Macuata have custodian rights to catch turtles from their qoliqoli and should not be questioned about it, says the Assistant Roko Tui Macuata, Mosese Nakoroi. It is understood that 82 turtles were killed and eaten at the Methodist Church meeting with 36 supplied from Udu Point. However, Mr Nakoroi said the turtles were used as traditional food or magiti for the vanua of Caumatalevu and it was the purpose of killing the turtles for a highly respected church meeting."The vanua is disappointed with media highlights from certain organisations that people of Macuata killed an unnecessary amount of turtles for the Methodist church conference last week.

"The resources, which in this case are the turtles, belong to the people of Macuata as they live and had been protected in their qoliqoli boundaries so why should they be in trouble for using food from their own resources?" Mr Nakoroi questioned.
"We followed the proper procedure by writing a letter to the Fisheries Department asking them to allow the people of Macuata to fish for turtles in their marine protected areas.

"We also told them that turtles would also be caught from non-protected areas but they did not respond and the vanua had to go ahead with the preparation for the meeting."

He said the Fisheries Department failed to inform the council the details of the permit that contained the amount of respective marine animals that could be caught for the meeting since the mandatory on protected areas was still valid.

"That we don't know about but we do know that we followed the proper channel and asked and informed the Fisheries department about the catching of turtles a month before the conference started."

Fisheries Divisional officer northern Apisai Sesewa could not be reached for a comment but he had said that a team had come from Suva to monitor the catch by the people.

World Wide Fund for Nature officer Kesaia Tabunakawai said they needed to get clarification from the Fisheries department regarding the permit before making a comment.
from w
I've posted a turtle story on our other blog - it's a story for our grandchildren about how the turtle got her shell.


Anonymous said...

It's a tragedy to the Pacific's population of endangered Hawksbill and Green Turtles that so many were killed for traditional purposes during this year's Methodist Conference. I understand that the Great Sea Reef is a destination for sea turtles to feed and breed from all over the South Pacific due to the abundance of food. I cannot only imagine how many of these 84 slaughtered turtles were breeding females and the removal of a very significant percentage of the local and regional population of these rare turtles that have now been killed and the ongoing dim prospects regarding the future viability for these species. I'm a full supporter of traditional rights and a long time Fiji resident and if there was the need to "harvest" several turtles, the three approved by Fisheries, for the Conference, would have been acceptable, but not removing an entire regional population of endangered turtles. What is also a concern is the Macuata Provincial Council's "threat" to remove all conservation commitments along the Great Sea Reef if the "media" continues to "personalise" this issue. Very short sighted thinking indeed!

Pandabonium said...

Conservation and REASON should be traditions.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Thank you both for your comments. When the Great Sea Reef was made tabu last year I was very pleased, and was surprised by recent events. I don't know how many turtles were caught - the media stories differ greatly.
I've posted a story on our other blog which I adapted from a Papua New Guinea tale about how the turtle got its shell.

laminar_flow said...

Well, looks like the Tui Macuata was "torn between two loves"!