15 unlicensed fishermen under investigation
September 13, 2021 6:15 am
Fifteen unlicensed fishermen from Tavua and Ba are under investigation for illegally harvesting beche-de-mer.
Fisheries Minister, Semi Koroilavesau confirms the group has been using uninhabited islands in the Tailevu waters as a campsite for their illegal operation.
Koroilavesau says the beche-de-mer were confiscated by villagers in Vereta last Wednesday.
“There was a lot of beche-de-mer that were confiscated. Around about 3000 were still not processed. So they were put back into the water. There were about 400 pieces that were already processed and have been taken to our station in Wainibokasi for investigation and legal proceedings.”
Koroilavesau says they’re trying to determine the motives behind the illegal harvest and exporters are under the spotlight.
“We are yet to identify who is the purchaser because I think this depends on supply and demand so we’re trying to look at that scenario.”
He adds hefty fines await anyone found guilty.
The Ministry says the ban on beche-de-mer is still effective despite COVID-19 and all fishermen are advised to refrain from harvesting.