More than 75 percent of those surveyed at Fiji’s major fish markets gave the Ministry of Fisheries high marks for both its outreach and enforcement of the first year of the seasonal ban on all species of kawakawa and donu.
“The new Ministry of Fisheries did a tremendous job ramping up its capacity to implement a national seasonal ban this past year. The survey confirmed that consumers and vendors took notice,” said Scott Radway, founder of cChange, the organization that created the 4FJ campaign and conducted the survey.
The survey was conducted following last year’s peak breeding season, at fish markets in Suva, Nausori, Nasinu, Lami, Nadi and Lautoka. The ban runs June through September, covering the peak breeding months of kawakawa and donu, which are rapidly declining in Fiji.
Of note, 63 percent of the vendors said there was no impact on fish sales, with people buying as much fish as before the ban and instead buying different kinds of fish. Both vendors and consumers reported seeing very few kawakawa and donu in the markets past June, with only a small percentage of sellers still offering the banned fish.
The seasonal ban begins again this Saturday June 1, and runs through September 30. The Ministry of Fisheries has said it will be giving fines this year for any violations. Last year, it only confiscated fish, allowing additional time for fish sellers to comply with the new ban.
Demonstrating the effectiveness of the outreach, 96 percent of the consumers surveyed were aware of the seasonal ban and 93 percent of the vendors surveyed were aware of the ban.
Of those surveyed, 75 percent of the consumers said the Ministry of Fisheries did a good job informing the public about the ban and 76 percent said it did a good job enforcing it. For vendors, 85 percent said the Ministry of Fisheries did a good job informing the public about the ban, and 75 percent said it did a good job enforcing the ban.
The surveys confirmed anecdotal reports that the vast majority of the public was aware of the decline of grouper fisheries in Fiji and the majority were supportive of a seasonal ban to protect the peak breeding months of grouper, Radway said.
As part of its survey findings, Radway said cChange recommends pursuing more targeted outreach to commercial fishers, who were not captured in the survey, but are the most directly impacted by the ban.
The surveyors interviewed 204 adult respondents, 109 vendors, 90 consumers and 5 market masters at locations in Suva, Nasinu, Lautoka, Nadi, and Ba. The margin of error is +/- 7.0 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.