The objective of this voluntary commitment is to develop a comprehensive Shark and Ray Conservation Regulation that ensures sustainable population levels of sharks and rays in Fijian waters. The regulation will set out a sustainable, long-term management plan to address the challenges of unsustainable mortality and habitat loss affecting sharks and rays in Fiji.
Shark and ray ecotourism is a major contributor to the Fijian economy, generating over US$4 million in tax revenue alone, and in 2012 shark dive tourism contributed over US$42 million to the Fijian economy.
Overfishing and loss of critical habitats has been identified as the major contributors to unsustainable mortality of sharks and rays, with high volumes caught in both coastal and offshore fisheries. Shark diving operations operating within Fiji have recently observed a 50% decline in some species of sharks.
To address the challenges of unsustainable mortality and habitat loss, the Fijian government and its partners recognise that sustainable, long-term management is required throughout our territorial waters and beyond. The adoption of comprehensive Shark and Ray Conservation Regulation will not only protect sharks and rays, but also help safeguard Fijis cultural heritage. Fiji will also continue to provide global leadership on shark and ray conservation through implementing the conservation plan outlined in the CMS Shark MoU.
The Fijian government has shown global leadership to improve the conservation and management of sharks and rays. In 2014, Fiji became the first Pacific Island nation to propose any species for protection under the Convention for Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), successfully including reef mantas and all species of mobula rays under the Appendices of the Convention. In 2016, Fiji became the first Pacific Island nation to be a lead proponent for a species to be considered for inclusion on the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES). This proposal broke CITES records for co-proponents, and resulted in the successful inclusion of all nine species of mobula rays under Appendix II of the CITES Convention, restricting unsustainable trade of these vulnerable animals.
Fiji also has some of the most important shark nursery habitats in the world, such as the Rewa Estuary, a globally significant nursery area for the endangered scalloped hammerhead shark.
Updates to voluntary commitment
By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics
By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism
1. By 2020, develop and launch a comprehensive Shark and Ray Conservation Regulation, including provisions to protect the globally significant Rewa River Estuary.
2. By 2020, become a signatory to the CMS Shark Memorandum of Understanding.
3. By 2020, develop a comprehensive National Plan of Action for sharks.
4. By 2020, develop a Code of Conduct (or Management Plan) for Manta Ray Dive Tourism will be endorsed to minimise adverse effects of human interactions with manta rays (and include mobula rays).