In a recent conversation with my mother, I said that next year I would be celebrating my birthday in at the end of May, rather than in the first week of June. Without missing a beat, my dear matriarch responded with, “Yes I’m sure you would like to have some kawakawa for dinner on your birthday.”
Last year my family supported the 4FJ movement by pledging not to catch, buy or eat kawakawa or donu (grouper fish) from June to September, which is their spawning time.
I wasn’t the only one.
The Methodist Church in Fiji also called its members to refrain from fishing for, selling, buying or eating Kawakawa and Donu during their breeding season.
In their June standing committee last year, the Standing Committee of the Methodist Church in Fiji unanimously agreed into join the 4FJ Movement. The decision was made in a response to the request from Sea Web Asia Pacific to join the campaign.
In a statement to members, Church leaders said that it was important “that we must think about the protection of these fish so that we have a sustainable food source in the future. We ask our members to refrain from fishing for Kawakawa and Donu, selling, buying or eating them until the end of the breeding season.”
From a Christian perspective when we talk about, we know that God created the world. Often when we talk about creation, we talk about how humans are masters of creation. But we were given the opportunity to be stewards of creation and to look after all the beautiful things that God created.
The point the church leaders were making was that by taking this pledge, the Church was saying that for this period when these fish are carrying their eggs, preparing to become parents in many ways, that we allow them to have life, and we allow more fish to have more life. And by taking this pledge, we are saying these areas that where these fish spawn are sacred and sacred to the creator.
“Those areas that are breeding sites should be thought of as sacred. We encourage our preachers, youth leaders and Sunday School teachers to use this campaign to create awareness and understanding about stewardship of all of God’s creation.”
The 4FJ Movement is a campaign that asks individuals from all walks of life to not eat, buy or sell donu and kawakawa from June through September. The main reasons for the campaign and pledge are:
• This A-grade fish has been over harvested to the point where Fishermen are having increasing difficultly catching Donu and Kawakawa. Studies show a 70 percent decline in fish landings in a span of 30 years.
• June through September is the peak breeding season for these fish species. If we let the fish release its eggs each year, instead of fishing them out during this period as we do now, the fish can start to recover.
In addition to boosting the stocks of these fish, which are important to the food security and livelihoods of our communities, the campaign is intended to activate people to become better stewards of the land and sea for the long term.
Launching the Green Growth Framework document this week, Prime Minister Bainimarama talked about the sacrifices we needed to make for the sustainability of the environment.
Placing keeping our island and ocean resources sustainable and ensuring our food security in the 10 major themes at the heart of Fiji’s quest for a green-blue economy, the Prime Minister said that, “the true wealth of a nation will always be judged on the protection of its resources, their sustainable use and the wealth of the natural legacy we leave to our children and grandchildren.”
THE 4FJ campaign was grateful for the Methodist Church in Fiji for joining its campaign to stop the catching and eating of kawakawa and donu during the June to September breeding season.
They said the church was demonstrating strong leadership on an issue critical to the health and well-being of the people of Fiji.
Scott Radway, the executive director of SeaWeb Asia Pacific, who designed and co-ordinated the 4FJ campaign, said the church's support was an important milestone for the 4FJ movement.
"We have said from the start of this campaign that if we got the message out, people would get behind 4FJ.
"Our challenge has always been getting the message out," Mr Radway said.
"Now, in partnership with the largest religious institution in the country, we are set to reach so many more people on this critical issue."
He said the church had taken a tremendous step in ensuring that the kawakawa and donu remained to support the communities that rely on them.
“We are not sure how we could ask the Methodist of Church of Fiji to take a stronger or more supportive stance. As an institution so important to the lives of so many Fijians, the church’s support for the campaign is a tremendous milestone for the 4FJ Movement. With the church's help, we are set to reach so many more people on this critical issue.”
I believe that as human beings we have been chosen by our Creator to be stewards of all creation. We need to ensure that in satisfying our needs and wants we do not further disturb the delicate balance of nature, which is part of God’s plan.
“Simplicity, Serenity, Spontaneity”