Two national team rugby stars have joined the to the growing roster of 4FJ campaign champions.
Leone Nakarawa and Nikola Matawalu have pledged to not eat donu and kawakawa from June through September, the peak breeding months for the fish, and to share the message with their friends, family and fans.
The duo, who also play together in Scotland, join an impressive group that includes rugby legend Waisale Serevi, Ratu Filimoni Ralogaivau, celebrity chef Lance Seeto and fisherman such as Lisala Waqalala, radio personalityVeena Bhatnagar, and the most recent addition, the leadership of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma.
“I love kawakawa because it’s so tasty and usually buy it for our Sunday lunch,” said Nakarawa. “But we Fijians depend on what we get from the land and sea for daily sustenance. So if we know that these two fish are declining in numbers why not give them the freedom to reproduce? It’s the right thing to do.”
Matawalu said he felt it was his responsibility to do what he could to help communities feed themselves and earn income now and in the future.
“If I know these two fish are decreasing in numbers and sizes then it’s my responsibility to do something about it. If we leave them alone during breeding season then we will have more,” Matawalu said. “So if we come together in this campaign, our kawakawa and donu will recover.”
Kawakawa and donu, commonly called grouper, are an important source of protein for Fiji communities and valuable to Fiji’s economy. But as Fiji’s population has grown and the demand for both food and income has grown, these fish stocks are declining across the country.
The 4FJ campaign (short for For Fiji) is asking people from all walks of life to pledge not eat, buy or sell them during the spawning season to help the fish recover.
Nakarawa admits the pledge is not easy. The same day he made his decision, his willpower was tested.
“That day my sister bought kawakawa for our dinner and I told her that I was not going to eat it because we should not be eating them,” said Nakarawa. “There were lots of them but its sizes also put me off because they were small.”
Nakarawa is originally from Mokoisa in Kadavu but raised in Vatukoula.
“I still recall those days in Vatukoula as a little boy when my older sister would come home every month to visit us with big bundles of big kawakawa,” he said. “But I rarely find those same sizes now.”
To join Nakarawa and Matawalu in the 4FJ pledge, visit www.4fj.org.fj or visit the cChange office at 49 Gladstone Rd. in Suva.