More than 120 people gave onlookers the Fiji premier cultural festival a surprise thrill, breaking out into dance to “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees as part of an off-beat way to build interest for launching of the 4FJ campaign.
A flash mob is a choreographed dance, in which people gather suddenly in a public place to perform, and within minutes, quickly disperse. The impetus behind the dance at the Hibiscus Festival Friday in Suva was to share a conservation message in a non-traditional format.
“There are so many messages given to the public on a daily basis,” said Sanivalati Navuku, manager of the SeaWeb Fiji program. “Instead of sharing another gloomy message that warned about our ocean’s future, we wanted to reach out in a fun, engaging way that encourages others to join us in reaching our goal. We are people of the islands, made of music and dance, so this was a perfect way to kick off this campaign.”
Led by a diverse group of partners—from government agencies and nongovernmental organizations to private sector companies and communities—the campaign aims to decrease fishing pressure on key grouper species from July through October, which is the time of year Grouper reproduce in Fiji. It’s what scientists call the grouper spawning season. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the fishery can continue to support communities and commerce in Fiji for the long-term.
Grouper, know by many local names in Fiji, is a highly valuable fish to the nation’s economy. It supports the livelihoods of Fiji’s coastal communities, who sell to both local and tourist markets, and it provides an attractive fish for restaurants and hotels to serve its guests. Groupers are also an important source of protein throughout the country, particularly in rural villages. But in the face of population growth, greater demand for fish and increased demand for cash in Fiji, these prized fish are facing a bleak future if more is not done to reduce fishing during their critical time of reproduction.
In response, the 4FJ campaign will bring together a diverse group of partners, in government, in business, in villages and in conservation, to advocate for better management of groupers.