Struggle to control plastics: Fiji Fisheries Minister

FIJI’S voluntary contribution to the Oceans conference next month will be a commitment to reducing the use of plastic bags and creating awareness on its effects nationwide.

These were the sentiments shared by Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau at a press conference held in Suva.

He said one of the major issues they were struggling with was the control of plastics within the ocean.

“Plastics are not only on our shorelines and public roads, but mainly along our public areas, as plastic basically travels along to the drain, flows along the river and ends up in the ocean,” he said.

“We at the Ministry of Fisheries are just making this apparent so we can create awareness to Fijians and we have sorted the Government’s assistance from various government ministers to create this awareness around Fiji.

“We are also working with the Ministry of Environment in creating legislation that will assist in the reduction of plastics.”

Permanent Secretary for Environment, Joshua Wycliffe, said the ministry was committed to assisting in ensuring the reduction of plastic usage nationwide.

“In partnership with the Fisheries Ministry and eliminating marine pollution, we will work to enforce in a very specific format by targeting contributing stakeholders, starting from our consumers to retailers, to manufacturers to importer and phase out and ban biodegradable plastic in Fiji,” he said.

Mr Wycliffe said they would begin discouraging the use of plastic bags by selling durable cotton bags and providing alternatives such as paper bags.

Senior lecturer at the School of Marine Studies at USP, Dr Marta Ferreira, said they had conducted tests on the presence of micro plastics in the environment and there had been indications that micro plastics were present in the ecosystem, mainly in the Suva coastal area.

“I just wanted to highlight that when our organisms are exposed to plastics, in the end, we are all exposed to plastic. We eat the fish, crab and if they are eating these micro plastics that we don’t see, then in the end we are also eating these plastics,” she said.