Participants of the the Ciguatera Stakeholders’ workshop at Suva’s Tanoa Plaza on 30 March, 2016.
There are ciguatera infected fish common to all divisions in Fiji which include dabea, damu, bati and ogo, participants of the ‘Ciguatera Stakeholders’ workshop discussed at Suva’s Tanoa Plaza on 30 March, 2016.
Ciguatera is a foodborne illness caused by eating certain reef fish whose flesh is contaminated with a toxin and live in tropical and subtropical waters.
The event was organised by The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) School of Biological and Chemical Sciences and School of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests, World Wide Fund for Nature Fiji Office and JICA.
The two-day workshop was part of a project titled, “Pilot Inventory of Traditional Knowledge of Ciguatera Fish Poisoning and Its Treatment in the Pacific Island Region; Fiji and PNG”, an EU Pacific-Europe Network for Science, Technology and Innovation (PACE-NET) seed funding project.
Fiji’s Minister for Fisheries Honourable Osea Naiqamu, during the opening of the event, said ciguatera fish poisoning is a food security, food safety, health, economic growth and livelihood issue, which is fundamental to the health, social and economic growth of individuals, families and the country as a whole.
Fiji’s Minister for Fisheries Honourable Osea Naiqamu opened the workshop.
“This is because Fiji depends on fish for subsistence, export and tourist trade,” Minister Naiqamu said.
“The major direct impact of ciguatera fish poisoning include loss of food source, loss of fish to fishing and tourism industries, high cost of public health, and monitoring and management,” he noted.
According to Hon. Naiqamu, some indirect impacts include fear of ciguatera that leads to reduced fishing from coral lagoons, and hence the increased reliance on lower quality imported foods, which in turn contribute to the rise in prevalence of nutritional chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease in indigenous Pacific regional populations.
“It appears that in Fiji, there are high incidences of ciguatera fish poisoning. However a lot of cases are not reported especially those from the rural areas and this affects the recording of data,” he said.
A key focus of the workshop was to raise ciguatoxin awareness and to recognise and collect relevant traditional knowledge related to ciguatera fish poisoning and its treatment.
Minister Naiqamu added it was interesting to acknowledge that incidences of ciguatera fish poisoning to date, had been managed and treated through the use of traditional plants and medicine due to limited availability of drugs.
A total of 22 participants including fishermen, traditional knowledge experts and ciguatoxin victims from Kadavu, Lau, Lomaiviti, Rewa, Lautoka, Muaivuso, Waiqanake and Mau were part of the event.
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