Na Vanua ko Natogadravu – Ki Vua na Turaga, Na Tui Nabou;
Vanua o Naivirourou,Ki Vua na Turaga na Tui Vuci;
Vanua o Naceruku, Tora Dreketi;
The Minister for Fisheries, Hon. Semi Koroilavesau;
Representatives from Private Sector and Partner Organizations;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.
You may have seen my message on World Oceans Day earlier this month –– if so, you would have seen that I was proudly standing in front of a Ministry of Fisheries banner.
I stressed the value of our ocean ecosystems, both in sustaining Fijian jobs and our environment, and how the effective management of our country’s more than 1.2 million square kilometres of ocean is vital to not only Fiji’s well-being, but the well-being of our planet.
The staff at the Ministry of Fisheries – some of whom join us today – play a vital role in that mission. It makes your work go far beyond the civil service; you are, in effect, serving something much larger. You are serving the health of our oceans and – as direct result – the stability of our climate.
My Government is dedicated to supplying the resources you need to succeed in your mission to sustain our ocean ecosystems for generations –– a mission I also serve on the world stage, as part of Fiji’s push for the sustainable management of our oceans, as well as seas far beyond our horizons.
So I’m delighted to be here today at the Ministry of Fisheries’ Wainibokasi Service Center, where we are delivering two major upgrades to the lives and careers of your staff – upgrades that will allow them to better service coastal and riverine fisheries for the benefit of Fijians in Tailevu and Rewa.
I’m proud to officially open these new, high-quality duplex quarters that will house frontline Ministry of Fisheries Officials.
With the comfort and security of proper housing, these staff can focus on what matters most – serving the fishers and coastal communities that depend on them. I hope that Fijians in Rewa and Tailevu take full advantage of this newfound access to the Ministry at your doorstep, and seek advice on how you can tap into the many fisheries resources your Government provides.
And today’s benefits go beyond these new buildings – I’m also pleased to be handing over a new fishing boat and engine to the people of Vuci. This is a commitment I had made, and not forgotten – so I’m happy to fulfill that promise to you all this afternoon.
Your new boat and engine will provide the much-needed means for Fijians in Vuci to sustain themselves. This is particularly important today, amid the global economic fallout caused by COVID-19.
Supporting communities with new sources of income is part of my Government’s immediate and ongoing strategy to alleviate the challenges brought on by this pandemic, so please, use these new tools at your disposal.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I also want to use today as an opportunity to re-emphasise the vital importance of sustainability in the use of our resources.
In order to continue reaping the benefits that our fisheries resources offer, we need to work together to sustain these fragile resources – and we can never lose sight of the importance of long-sightedness.
But this is, above all, a community effort. There is no way a single person or organisation can successfully manage these resources, so we must act collectively – both as a community and as a nation – to take this immense responsibility seriously, for the benefit of both current and future generations.
The use of destructive, unsustainable fishing practices – namely, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing – are among the major setbacks to fostering a healthy Fisheries sector.
Today’s investments in your community are a big step forward – but the path will be long, and we cannot stray from our ultimate mission.
To reach that goal, we must all work together, hand-in-hand, to build a better future for families in Tailevu and Rewa. And – knowing that our Fisheries and the precious resources they provide are deeply inter-connected – this co-operation must extend to all Fijians, from across every community, every town, every district, and every Province throughout the country.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I now have the great pleasure of declaring the Wainibokasi Fisheries Staff Quarters officially open.
Vinaka vakalevu, thank you, and God bless Fiji.