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It’s hard not to be aware of ocean issues today.

From climate change to water pollution to decreasing fish numbers, the word is out. But with all the information coming at you, it is easy not to hear anything at all.

The 4FJ campaign (short for For Fiji) is designed to break through the noise about a critical issue to Fiji’s future. It aims to help people understand why the increasing loss of a prized food fish is critical to the people of Fiji, and then help you do something, right here, right now, to protect them — and ultimately, our way of life.

It’s as easy as

Step 1: Admit We Have a Problem

Grouper, commonly known locally by names such as kawakawa and donu, are an important source of protein for our communities. Groupers, sought after by urban residents and tourists alike, are also commercially valuable to Fiji’s economy. The fish is just hmm, mmm good, no way around that. But as our population grows and the demand for both food and income grows, these fish are disappearing all across Fiji.

Here’s a snapshot of the problem, based on research conducted by Yvonne Sadovy, of the University of Hong Kong and the Fiji Department of Fisheries:

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Bottom line: Unless action is not take to better manage these fish, which help support our villages, our culture and our economy, these fish face a bleak future. True story.

 

Step 2: Take the Pledge

Better managing food fish is a complex challenge. When experts starting talking about the solutions, that’s when most of start thinking about the last episode of Shortland Street. Indeed, there are many different factors in ensuring fish populations remain healthy. But here’s the good news about grouper: There is something easy to do that can make a difference right now and that can make life better for years to come. These fish reproduce predictably every year at the same time. So if we don’t eat the fish when during the time, and let them release literally millions of eggs instead, the fish populations will begin to rebound.

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So 4FJ is asking people from all walks of life, from our villages to our fish markets to our board rooms to our government leaders to take a simple pledge: “I will not eat, buy or sell grouper from June through September.” These are the months that grouper reproduce. So at the risk of repeating ourselves, if we let these fish reproduce each year, then we will have more fish for years to come. It’s that simple. Don’t eat ‘em June to September and feast the rest of the year.

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Step 3: Join the Movement

The goal of the pledge is to let these fish reproduce and fill our fish baskets for years to come. But this campaign wants to do more than just collect names and talk about fish biology. While people are stepping forward to do the right thing, it is important to remind ourselves why this campaign is so important. To remember that 4FJ is not about fish, it is about us.

So the campaign team will shine a spotlight on the people who are taking the pledge. We want to know why saving Fiji’s grouper is important to you. We want to know what it means to you, your family, your village, your island, your country. We realize that there are so many environmental messages coming at you right now. Save this, stop that. What we often forget in our busy lives is why these issues are so important. We also don’t always recognize how much everyone cares about them as well.

So stand up and tell your 4FJ story. From community members to business leaders to cultural and political leaders to fishermen to chefs to urban professionals, to mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, we want to hear why you care.

But that’s just the start. We want you to help, too. Here’s how you can join the movement: