The 4FJ campaign is a movement to protect our way of life in Fiji. Protecting Groupers locally known as Kawakawa and Donu during spawning period is not about fish but protecting our way of life.
4FJ (short for For Fiji) is asking people from all walks of life to take a simple pledge: “I will not eat, buy or sell kawakawa and donu from June through September.”FJ4 Campaign
Kawakawa and donu, commonly called grouper in English, are an important source of protein and income for Fiji’s communities. These fish are also commercially valuable to our urban centers and visitor industry, and deeply ingrained in our culture.
However, as Fiji’s population has grown and the demand for both food and income has grown, these fish are declining across Fiji.
But there is some good news: There is something easy everyone can do right ow to help this fish recover. If we don’t harvest these fish when they’re reproducing, and let them release millions of eggs instead each year, the fishpopulations can begin to rebound.
4FJ (short for For Fiji) is asking people from all walks of life to take a simple pledge: “I will not eat, buy or sell kawakawa and donu from June through September.” These are the peak months that these vulnerable fish reproduce. And if you avoid them June to September, there will be more fish to eat the rest of the year.
Why these fish?
What makes kawakawa and donu particularly vulnerable to overfishing is the way the fish reproduces. During short periods each year, individuals swim from their home reefs, sometimes covering great distances, to aggregate or gather in one place to reproduce. Scientists call these gathering spots, which are always in the same exact spots year after year, spawning aggregation sites. Most fish do not spawn in such large groups.
In Fiji, these fish typically gather at aggregation sites to spawn in June through September, often around a full moon. Traditionally, these sites were well-known to local fishermen and provided good opportunities to fish them with minimal effort. But in modern times, as fishing pressure has increased, particularly for commercial sale, these unique spawning habits of kawakawa and donu – gathering the same spot each year, and predictably at the same time – have made it easy to overfish them.
Making the issue more challenging, the fish are taken before they produce the next generation of grouper.
So you lose all those fish that year, plus what could be millions of fertilized fish eggs that create the next generation of grouper. The research has also shown that the more you overfish, the longer it takes for sites to recover, and in some cases, the sites never recover.
Beyond the Pledge
A challenge with environmental campaigns is that it often (although unintentionally) sounds like the campaign is about protecting fish, or animals, or plants, and not about people. That’s why 4FJ is striving to also capture the stories behind why people are making the pledge not eat, buy or sell kawakawa and donu.
We want to know what this fish means to you, your family, your village. Tell us about Sunday feast. The birthdays. The trip
back to the village. The school fees paid. Tell us what this fish means to you. Then let us share your stories on our Website, on our social media networks, in the media, at events and in the villages.
This is campaign is your campaign. Your spotlight. Your platform. So let’s raise our collective voice and ensure that no one is confused that this is not about saving a fish, but protecting Fiji’s way of life. We think if we do, good things will happen.
Visit www.4fj.org.fj or drop by our office to raise your voice and support the movement.