Promoting Sustainable Resource Management and the Protection of Fiji's Environment Through Law
Fiji Environmental Law Association
The Ministry of Fisheries continues to protect Turtles under Regulation 5 of the Offshore Fisheries Management Decree 2014.
A Public Notice released on 26th January, 2019 bans the harvest, sale, possession and transport of sea Turtles, their eggs or any part or product. Members of the public are advised that a breach of the regulation 5 of the OFMD may result in criminal charges with penalties from $10,000 to $50,000 for individuals and for Corporations - $20,000 to $100,000.
The Fiji Environmental Law Association in collaboration with the University of the South Pacific - Institute of Applied Science (team) conducted a 3 day training on Fiji's Environment Management Act (EMA) with particular focus on the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and gravel extraction.
Representatives from Government Departments including Department of Environment, Fisheries, Police, Rural Local Authority, Provincial Office, Community chiefs and leaders, women and youth attended the training that was designed to create legal awareness on EMA and the EIA process
In response to these issues, our UNDPSG Grant enables FELA to provide legal and technical advice and support to community groups to improve community capacity and legal awareness of laws and help communities to understand their rights, improve community governance and embrace laws and principles set at national levels. Three main objectives will be pursued towards the overall goal to improve community reef to ridge governance and sustainable management of fisheries and coastal resources in compliance with national laws.
The first objective is to improve community awareness of the laws regulating inshore fisheries and of their enforcement processes, explain the key features of coastal fisheries legislations, in particular the provisions relating to the licences and permits (who needs them, for what activities, and what are the penalties for non-compliance), and to prohibitions and restriction on the catch of fish (protected species, size limits).
The second objective is to improve community awareness of the laws regulating the protection of the environment and the regulation of developments and activities that impact on the environment, in particular rights and obligations of communities under the Environmental Management Act (EMA) and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process. Communities experiencing issues with land-based developments and activities that causes pollution or otherwise adversely impact their fishing grounds will become aware of what are the obligations of developers or companies conducting these activities under the law, and will empower the communities to demand the implementation of the processes that should be complied with and have their concerns considered in the EIA process.
The third objectives of this project is to provide on-demand access to legal and technical advice to the communities and to the NGOs working with communities on sustainable management of inshore fisheries and natural resources management in a ridge to reef approach. Through this project, FELA will have the resources to respond to request for tailored legal and technical support from communities over the duration of the project. The communities will be able to make such request either directly to FELA, or through the FLMMA and WIF networks, as well as through the Provincial Conservation Officer, YMST, the local representatives of the Ministry of Fisheries or of the Department of Environment.
Beyond the direct benefit of this project to the communities participating in the workshops and receiving tailored legal and technical advice, the lessons learnt from this project will contribute FELA’s mission to improve the sustainable management of natural resources and the protection of the environment through law, and will provide case-studies and knowledge tools that will benefit more communities in Fiji and all partner organisations working in the environmental and natural resources management field.
Participants were also given a glimpse of the work of fisheries enforcement officers during land patrol before being taken to Nausori Agro Market to learn more about the production and sale of locally produced foods (including fish). The site visit concluded with a lunch and cocktail at the Fiji Club. #FELA2016 #CoastalFisheriesManagement #LegalDevelopmentForum
and its relevance to development activities, particularly gravel extraction and mining, clarify the roles and responsibilities of the authorized agencies and enforcement officers in the EIA process, create awareness on compliance procedures of EMA and the EIA process and practical application and understanding of the process through site visitation to existing development projects.
The 3 day workshop entailed interactive presentations (by the Department of Environment, Ra Provincial Council, Forest, Ra Rural Local Authority, FELA and presentations by the participants of various groups. The training also entailed a site visit to the Golden Point Resort, a recently approved coastal development i.e. hotel featuring dramatic changes to the coastal area, removal of mangroves and building of artificial features including trenches and man-made lagoon. Participants were given the opportunity to raise questions to the managing director on the EIA process, length of time taken to receive approvals, qoliqoli compensation and access to fishing areas post compensation.
At the end of an official visit to Fiji, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David R. Boyd, said the island nation was acutely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and associated natural disasters, through no fault of its own, and richer countries should rapidly ramp up financial assistance.
The Fiji Environmental Law Association welcomes International Intern, Ms Gina Zheng. Gina joins FELA under the New Colombo Plan Scholarship, an initiative under the Australian Government which aims to lift knowledge of the Indo-Pacific in Australia by supporting Australian undergraduates to study and undertake internships in the region.
"When I was awarded the fellowship, I knew immediately that this was a chance to pursue my passions in sustainable development in the Pacific region, and fast-track opportunities to engage with both the sector and region. Where used correctly, the law can play such a powerful tool in the world of environmental management and sustainable development. As such, I chose to pursue an internship with FELA, as a reputable legal organisation leading policy work on the efficacious use of the law to not only protect the environment, but also build capacity within local communities to pursue sustainable objectives".
FELA attended a 2 day workshop hosted by the US Embassy on Effective Digital and Social Media Strategies for Non Profits Organisations. The workshop was conducted by the Communications Specialist from the University of Illinois, Chicago, Mr Richard O’Rourke.
The workshop was also attended by communications and public relations officers from other NGOs and Government Departments determined to learn how to better utilize various communications tools and social media to attain communications goals.
FELA launched its first publication of the Turtle Enforcement Toolkit titled, “Saving Sea Turtles: A Guide for Law Enforcement" on the 28th of August at the Holiday Inn, Suva.
The Turtle Enforcement Toolkit is designed to improve enforcement of Turtle breaches in Fiji. Designed to give its readers a simple and clear outline of the laws in place regarding sea turtles, the enforcement authorities protecting the species and tips for enforcement authorities with regards to dealing with infringements. The Enforcement Guide introduces its readers to 2 main domestic laws in Fiji protecting turtles and identifies all the criminal offences, provides tips for investigation, defines roles of enforcement officers and their responsibilities.
This exciting event was well attended by members of the Department of Fisheries, the Acting Commissioner of Police, Representative of the DPP members of various NGOs and members of the Public.
The Turtle Enforcement Toolkit is currently being translated in the iTaukei language .and Copies of the English and iTaukei versions will be is available for purchase at the USP Book Center and FELA Office shortly.
FELA WELCOME ncp scholarship intern
The Fiji Environmental Law Association welcomes its new member of the team, Ms Patricia Parkinson. Patricia joins FELA as a part of the Australian Volunteer for International Development (AVID) Program. She is a French-Australian environmental law specialist with a wealth of experience, having previously worked with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a senior environmental legal officer. She will be based with FELA for a year where she will focus on building staff capacity. Patricia is a valuable addition to FELA and we look forward to working with her.
FELA WELCOME SENIOR ENVIRONMENT LAWYER
Fiji’s policy commitment to sustainable development and sustainable management of coastal and marine resources requires addressing the vulnerability of coastal fisheries to over exploitation and the impacts of land-based activities and development. Coastal communities are at the forefront of the impacts of poor fisheries management and of the degradation of the coastal and marine environment resulting from land-based activities, and also play a central role in the governance and management of coastal and marine resources. However, community governance and management capacity is hampered by poor community awareness of the laws that regulate inshore fisheries and of their rights with regards to the approval of activities and developments that impact on coastal and marine areas.
The Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area (FLMMA) Network and the Women in Fisheries Network (WIFN), who work closely with communities, have documented these impacts, ranging from over-fishing, both by commercial and artisanal fishers, to pollution of coastal waters from a variety of sources including oil spillage of tankers, molasses, mining waste materials and general waste, as well as the excessive cutting of mangroves, the use of mangrove swamps as waste dump, and the impacts of dredging. They have also identified the need for strengthening communities’ awareness of the laws that regulate fisheries and environmental management, both for improved compliance of artisanal fishers, with fisheries laws (such as the requirement for licences and permits), and for enabling the exercise of the communities’ rights relating to environmental management and environmental impact assessment of land-based activities impacting on coastal fisheries.
Community women and the youths play, along men, an important role in fisheries natural resources management, but they often have limited access to capacity building opportunities and to decision making relating to these issues.
FELA hosted a 3 day Fisheries Forum at the Tanoa Plaza Hotel in Suva. The purpose of the forum is to facilitate legal discussion amongst relevant stakeholders on existing legal tools and mechanisms that can contribute to effient fisheries management, identify gaps/loopholes and challenges and look at practical legal solutions to address the gaps. Day 1 of the Legal Forum saw a wide range of issues raised, generating lively exchanges between participants and the facilitators. #FELA2016 #CoastalFisheriesManagement #LegalDevelopmentForum