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The Fijian cabinet has approved the Offshore Fisheries Management (Amendment) Decree 2014 which features higher penalties meted out to operators found engaging in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Its unclear what the new penalties are as the amended decree is yet to be gazzetted, but according to Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forest, Rural Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, Inia Seruiratu the new penalties are enought to deter would be offenders and protect local fisheries waters.
“It safeguards us from being a target for IUU fishing and allowing Fiji to be an exemplary custodian of its fisheries,” Seruiratu said. “The amendment is just to put the message out there to discourage these practises in local waters.”
Since the 2013 version of the decree came into force on 1 January 2013, only one local vessel had been found engaging in illegal fishing.
“This is the only case that was reported last year where one of the vessels registered in Fiji was found fishing in the French Pacific Territory waters for 52 days,” Seruiratu said.
“Authorities stepped in and stripped the vessel of its license.” With the higher penalties mapped out in the amendment decree, Seruiratu said it would warn all fishing operators against these practises.
Furthermore the amendment decree also amends the Principal Decree by inserting changes to various sections for the purpose of clarity and to assist the Department of Fisheries in carrying out its functions and responsibilities effectively.
Meanwhile, cabinet says the amended decree will come into force on the date of its publication in the gazette.
SOURCE" FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS
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