Ministry focus on sustainability

Giant clam species are listed under the Convention on the International Trade on Endangered Species of flora and fauna (CITES). Picture: FILE

A TWO-DAY consultation workshop is expected to get stakeholder inputs into the strategies, to make sure Fiji has the right approach that will work and will ensure the long-term sustainability of two fisheries mud crabs, and giant clams.

At the opening of the Mud Crab and Giant Clam Management Strategies workshop in Suva yesterday, Ministry of Fisheries permanent secretary Craig Strong said the ministry aimed to take those selling mud crabs and giant clams that do not meet the ministry’s size requirements to task.

He said through the workshop, the ministry hoped to discuss this proposed management plans and strategies.

According to Mr Strong the giant clam species are listed under the Convention on the International Trade on Endangered Species of flora and fauna (CITES), and are clearly threatened with extinction within their geographical range on an international scale whereas mud crabs are also easily overfished, and thus the need for drafting these very important policy guiding documents.

“The Ministry of Fisheries has always been very proactive in terms of conserving and managing our fisheries, and associated marine resources — by placing conservation and management measures in place on a timely manner.

“I may also add that the ministry is very appreciative and acknowledges the very large and enduring input from all the different stakeholders, in terms of managing our fisheries and marine resources. Be assured that the ministry sees great value in convening this very important consultation forum — for all our stakeholders.”

He also said the mud crabs were a high-value fishery on the domestic market in Fiji, popular among local consumers and the tourism industry and that the harvesting of undersized crabs is an ongoing concern.

“On the other hand the giant clams hadn’t favoured as well as the mud crabs, this species faced local extinction as well, namely for the Gigas giant clam, Tridacna gigas (Vasua matau), and the Horse-hoof (Hippopus hippopus) giant clam species,” said Mr Strong.

Meanwhile it was also highlighted that the Ministry of Fisheries with relevant stakeholders and authorities aimed to improve the crab and clam population by not only putting together a strategy to monitor and grow the species but also have a system in place for fishers that they can have the maximum return of investment when it comes to harvesting crabs and clams.

The workshop was attended by the regional counterparts from SPC, our national partners Wildlife Conservative Society (WSC), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Mamanuca Environment Society (MES) and representatives from government ministries/departments and communities

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