SUVA, Fiji – The Ministry of Fisheries today launched Set Size, a cross-sector campaign to reverse the decline of inshore fisheries by encouraging people to avoid undersize fish.
The Set Size campaign will work with a broad coalition of partners to help fishers, fish sellers and consumers better understand the sizes fish need to reach to ensure they are breeding and restocking Fiji reefs, year after year.
“Fiji fishermen are increasingly going further and further out to sea and spending more on fuel to catch enough fish to feed their families and earn a small income. That’s a failing business model,” said Minister Semi Koroilavesau. “This campaign will help reverse that trend with common sense solutions.”
The decline catch numbers in Fiji are due to the rapid increase in fishing, which is a result of an increasing population and increasing income needs in Fiji. As needs have increased, the fishing gear has also changed in Fiji, with modern gear allowing people to take more and more fish. The end result is not enough breeding fish left that can restock Fiji reefs.
“The Set Size campaign is asking everyone to pledge not to buy, sell or eat any fish that are undersized, so our fish can get a chance to restock our reefs before we take them,” said Koroilavesau. “That means, over time, bigger and more fish for everyone.”
New outreach materials have been developed, including Set Size posters, stickers, fishermen videos, outreach presentations and illustrated flip-books, to help people understand the issues and the management solutions.
The campaign will focus on the current Set Sizes, or minimum sizes, under Fiji law as additional research on size of maturity in Fiji is conducted. The initial outreach will be on compliance, but the Fisheries Ministry is also building up its enforcement capacity to ensure undersize fish are no longer found at fish markets.
The campaign will work at all levels, starting with direct outreach at the community levels, led by the Fisheries Ministry, community leaders and church leaders. Civil society organizations and private sector companies are also committed to supporting the campaign.
Newworld IGA, which operates 22 stores nationwide, is already championing the campaign, seeking to post all the Set Sizes in its stores to ensure it does not sell anything undersize. The supermarket chain also wants to distribute Set Size materials to people buying fishing gear at its stores.
“Newworld takes its corporate responsibility seriously, and is ready to take the lead in ensuring its business practices don’t harm the ability of Fiji communities and that’s just what selling undersize fish does,” said Peter Royce, General Manager of Newworld IGA.
Newworld is also a champion for the 4FJ campaign, which asks people not to buy, sell or eat kawakawa and donu during their peak breeding season, June through September.
The Set Size campaign is designed as the next step for the 4FJ campaign, which focused on some of the most vulnerable fish in Fiji, said Scott Radway, founder of cChange, the nonprofit that designed both 4FJ and Set Size to support the Fisheries Ministry.
“The 4FJ campaign aimed to help kawakawa and donu recover. The Set Size campaign is designed to help the rest of the fish recover,” Radway said.
To get involved in the Set Size campaign, visit www.facebook.com/setsize.