|Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu|
Minister for Fijian Affairs and Lands Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu reveals that the principal objective of the legislation is to transfer to Qoliqoli owners from the state the proprietary ownership of their respective fishing grounds, which are currently owned by the state.
It has been confirmed that the transfer will be by operation of law, not through ordinary conveyance and Ratu Naiqama also stressed that claims for compensation for past use of Qoliqoli areas will be disallowed.
One of the major features of the bill is the establishment of the Qoliqoli Commission through the reconstitution of the Native Fisheries Commission. Ratu Naiqama reveals that the Qoliqoli Commission will issue licenses to undertake commercial fishing in any Qoliqoli area, and will appoint guardians to see that the provisions of the Act are enforced in the Qoliqoli areas.
He said no commercial operation can be undertaken within the Qoliqoli areas without prior approval of the NLTB after consultations with the Qoliqoli commission and owners.
Ratu Naiqama also said the bill marks the culmination of about 125 years of preparations and expectations by Fijian chiefs over their traditional customary Qoliqoli rights.