Fiji Shark Conservation Campaign

CORAL, working in partnership with the Pew Environment Group and the Fijian Ministry of Fisheries, is raising awareness for shark protection in Fiji through an exciting shark conservation campaign.

The campaign’s objective is to create a Fijian National Shark Sanctuary that would

  • prohibit the commercial fishing of sharks throughout the entirety of the Fijian exclusive economic zone;
  • prohibit the import and export of shark products in Fiji;
  • prohibit the sale of shark products within Fiji;
  • allow recreational catch and release of sharks; and
  • allow the incidental, artisanal catch of sharks by citizens of Fiji, assuming the subsequent shark or shark products are not sold.

Since February 2011, our team has been working on the ground, alongside the Fijian people, to raise support for shark protection. Because effective conservation requires collaboration, we have been engaging and educating local stakeholders from the confederacies, provinces, districts, and villages to ensure long-lasting protection for sharks.

Meeting with Ratu Epenisa Cakobau
Meeting with Ratu Epenisa Cakobau, high chief of Bau Village and the Kubuna Confederacy, who has given his support for shark protection

Sharks have long held a place of respect and worship in Fiji, but past efforts to legally protect them from local and international fishing pressures were met with resistance. Thanks in part to the recent wave of shark sanctuary designations around the world, however, this current campaign is gaining momentum.

In July, Fiji’s Department of Fisheries and Forests confirmed that it is reviewing Fiji’s fisheries laws and is considering revisions that would include a ban on the trade of all shark fins and other products derived from any shark captured in Fijian waters. If the proposal moves forward, we expect the government to issue an official decree before the year’s end. The passing of such a law would make Fiji the first Melanesian country to approve such comprehensive protection for these iconic animals.

The successful passing of the decree is only the first step. The second—and perhaps most important step—is making sure the new policy is effectively implemented. We will work with the Fijian people to make sure communities are aware of the law, understand its importance, and proudly support it.

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