Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sea wardens have power to arrest

Fiji Times - Friday, February 12, 2010

WARDENS of traditional fishing grounds are empowered to arrest people found to be illegally fishing in the area.

Director of Public Prosecutions Ratu Aca Rayawa said the wardens did not have to wait for police or the courts, and could also confiscate fishing implements.

Ratu Aca said his office would then make a civil forfeiture application in the court for the items that were confiscated - apart from the criminal proceedings that would take place for illegal fishing.

He made the comments while accompanying Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, who was on a three-day tour of the Ra province.

Addressing villagers from the district of Nakorotubu in Namarai, Ra, Ratu Aca said the villagers would have to hand over the confiscated items to police.

He said the laws were put in place because a lot of people were getting away with illegal fishing.

He told the villagers of a recent case where a foreign vessel master, Lee I. Lang, was convicted by the High Court in Suva about three weeks ago after it found him guilty of illegal fishing.

Ratu Aca said in that case, the State had also filed for the forfeiture of the vessel and the proceedings from the catch ran into thousands of dollars.

His explanation came after villagers asked about the powers of the qoliqoli wardens.

Tikina (district) Nakorotubu spokesman Mosese Dranibaka said that a lot of people were coming from outside their qoliqoli to fish in their qoliqoli.

He said they had found people from as far as Suva and other parts of the country fishing in their Marine Protected Area.

Mr Dranibaka said that most of those people were using prohibited fishing equipment such as compressors and scuba.

He said they had also found a lot of people diving at night, which he believed was a threat to their qoliqoli.

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