Land Area: 18,272 sq km
EEZ: 1,290,000 sq km
DESCRIPTION OF THE FISHERIES SECTOR
Foreign fishing has occurred in Fijian waters since the early 1950s. Currently the port of Suva hosts around 150 mostly longline vessels around half of which are licensed to fish in Fiji. Catches by this domestic fleet have increased from around 5,000 tonnes in 1998 to an all time high in 2002 of 16,472 tonnes, of which 74% was taken in the Fijian EEZ. A significant volume of tuna is transhipped in Fiji by foreign vessels, and in particular Taiwanese longliners. The PAFCO cannery in Levuka processes much of the albacore, primarily for export to Europe and the USA.
The subsistence fishery targets mainly finfish, beche de mer, octopus, seaweed, lobster, mud crab, and various bivalve molluscs. These resources make a large contribution to domestic food supplies. It has recently been estimated that 50 percent of all rural households are involved in some form of subsistence fishing and that about 22,000 tonnes of fish are landed each year.
Around 1,000 vessels and 2,500 fishers participate in the coastal commercial fishery. It is estimated that 9,320 t of finfish and non-finfish (i.e. invertebrates and plants) were harvested by this component of the fishery. By weight the finfish isresponsible for about half of all landings.
The principle agency responsible for fisheries management and development is the Department of Fisheries a branch of the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests. Other government agencies involved include: Office of the Solicitor General; Navy Division of the Fiji Military Forces; Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade; Fiji Police Force, which in collaboration with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is responsible for prosecutions and enforcement; Department of Environment which has interests in respect of marine conservation and sustainability issues, including turtles and other by-catch.
POLICY AND LEGAL FRAMEWORK
The laws governing the use of marine resources in Fiji are set out in Chapters 158 and 158A of the Laws of Fiji. Chapter 158 is also known as the Fisheries Act. Fishery Management Plans are implemented to guide the management and development of individual fisheries.