Fisheries chief issues caution about illegal and overfishing
The Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F), Tilafono David Hunter, has called on local fishermen to stop harvesting under sized fish. He has also reminded them about the impact of overfishing on the local coastal waters.
Speaking during an interview with the Samoa Observer, Tilafono said the Ministry was concerned about overfishing on the back of fears about meat supply shortage during the coronavirus pandemic.
“As we’re all aware, we are seeing so many more fish vendors during this time around which is the alternative protein source (the fish) that has increased,,” he said.
“But we should use them wisely and not abuse the advantage of the rich supplies of fish at the moment. We want to make sure the supply of fish is sustainable."
According to Tilafono, M.A.F. has received many reports about overfishing and illegal fishing.
“Others have broken the law with how they’re fishing,” he said.
Though there is a drop in meat supplies overseas, Tilafono advises fishermen to harvest fish sparingly.
“The challenge for us is the lack of meat supplies,” he said. “The majority of the meat we’re eating every year is from foreign countries. We don’t have enough locally produced meat (moa Samoa) and I think that’s one major concern for us in terms of food supplies.
“So I advice our fishermen to please, give the small fishes the opportunity to grow as well as the crabs and other fish creatures.”
The Ministry and the Government is working to promote, encourage and push the fishermen and families to prevent fishing in the lagoon due to these impacts.
Hence, the public is advised to fish in the deep where the fish is from all around the world’s ocean and not just Samoa.
“Within the lagoon are the fishes which survive on the minerals from our grounds,” he said. “Therefore, it’s better to fish in the deep where there’s more fishes.”
A fisherman in Apolima Island, Puluseu Tautaiolevao said fish is always one of the main source of food and income for the 10 families residing in the island.
However, they are well aware of how to limit the number of fishes a day to sell and eat.
“We’ve been fishermen since we were young and we were instilled the attitude of how to save the fish and how to manage our shores wisely,” he said.
Similar to Tilafono, Puluseu advised all fishermen and the public to manage fishing wisely.