The Ministry of Defence, National Security and Immigration, as part of its corporate social responsibility, has committed itself to not eating kawakawa or donu during their peak breeding months, June through September.
“Our core business is delivering national security for our people,” said Permanent Secretary, Mr. Osea Cawaru. “This is, in essence, the practical application of what our Ministry hopes to achieve, the continued well-being and prosperity of all who call Fiji home.”
“To that end, this pledge will hopefully contribute to the continued existence of this species of fish, which is a prized food source for our people,” he added, after he and his staff all took the pledge.
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 Fiji.
These fish are particularly vulnerable to overfishing because they gather predictably each year in the same locations to reproduce. As a result, 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 peak spawning months. By taking the simple act, the fish is allowed to release it eggs and ensure we have more fish next year.
“The Ministry has demonstrated tremendous leadership today,” said Scott Radway, the executive director of SeaWeb Asia Pacific, which created the 4FJ campaign. “By taking this pledge, not only will the Ministry have an immediate impact on the health of these fish, it has made an important statement that the security of the country is dependent on the health of its natural resources.”
The Ministry joins a growing list of high profile pledges fueling the campaign. Some notable campaign champions are rugby legend Waisale Serevi, Ratu Filimoni Ralogaivau, chef Lance Seeto and Hindi broadcaster Veena Bhatnagar and fisherman Lisala Waqalala. More recently the campaign received the backing of the Methodist Church in Fiji, the largest religious institution in the country.
In the few months since launching, the campaign has obtained more than 2,500 public pledges, though, based on feedback from supporters, many more have taken the pledge privately, including local restaurants.