Tempers flared, views clashed and voices were raised as the EIA public consultation on the World Wave Project’s Qamea Wave Project was forced to come to an end at Naselesele Village in Taveuni yesterday.
Traditional fishing right owners in the Wainikeli and Bouma district out-rightly rejected the project which proposes to create new high quality surf waves by breaking and reshaping reefs near Qamea.
They have also called for a complete stop to any future consultations by WWP.
Tanasio Tumoi from the tikina Wainikeli says a no is a no.
“From the Qoliqoli owner’s point of view, this process (project) is a no process to us. We’ve had enough of development in the Wainikeli area. That’s enough. No more. No more process immaterial of thousands or millions. Please no more!”
The Traditional Head of the Yavusa (Tribe) Korovatu from Naivivi Village in Qamea, Iosefo Tikoisolomone says they had rejected earlier consultations and nothing is going to change this time around.
Tikoisolomone says one of the proposed sites for the surf waves is where villagers fish and gather seafood for their daily consumption, taking away the reef would mean taking away their survival.
“Where the development will take place it’s a small area and that’s where we fish from. The consultation is putting across an image that this project will go ahead. You are trying this development on our source of livelihood. Everyone sitting here doesn’t want this development.”
The reaction from the fishing rights owners comes following a presentation by the lead EIA consultant for the project Epeli Nasome and Marine Ecologist Hellen Sykes.
The fishing rights owners showed their disappointment towards government for allowing WWP to continue their scoping works for the project.
Benedito Matana from the Yavusa Naisaqai in Waitabu Village did not mince his words when he questioned why the company is still being entertained when government knows fully well the kind of work that the development will require.
One of the main developers for the project Michael Lucas then told the consultation, if they do not agree to the project, they can reject the waiver of fishing rights.
The fishing rights owners immediately agreed they will not sign the waiver of the fishing rights and the Tui Korovatu declared that the meeting end and no further discussion be made.
They have also told the developers, they do not want any further discussions or consultations on the project as it ends right there.
WWP had identified two sites for their project where the reefs will be re-shaped or sculptured to create two new high quality waves.
Machines would scrape off about two meters deep of coral over combined 2.6 hectare of area to allow for the creation of the new high quality surf waves.
The two sites are located off the southwest coastline of Qamea.