SUVA, June 27 (Xinhua) -- Fiji's Ministry of Fisheries said on Wednesday that around 80 percent of the island nation's known grouper and coral trout breeding sites are rapidly declining or have died out.
According to Fijivillage website, the ministry said that grouper and coral trout are most vulnerable during spawning because they gather at the same time and at the same spots each year to breed.
To deal with this, the ministry issued on June 6 a public notice announcing a legal ban on the collection, sale and exportation of grouper and coral trout during their peak breeding months from June to September.
Fish sellers in Fiji who are still selling grouper and coral trout during the season ban can now have their fish confiscated and also be immediately fined with 10,000 Fijian dollars (about 4,763 U.S. dollars) for individuals and 20,000 Fijian dollars (about 9,526 U.S. dollars ) for corporations.
The ministry implemented a grace period where fishermen and vendors were allowed to sell off any stock of these fish on the local market, but after this period, the ministry will be working closely with enforcement officers from other agencies to monitor all local fish catches as well as sales.
Fiji, a Pacific island nation with a population of more than 880,000, is highly dependent on coastal fisheries resources.