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Review Act with caution, Chaudhry tells Govt

Review of the Surfing Areas Act 2010 could impact adversely on tourism and people’s access to foreshore and coastal waters, says Fiji Labour Party Leader and former Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry.

As public consultations are currently underway, Chaudhry is urging the Government to move with extreme caution.

The Government intends to amend the Surfing Areas Act 2010 which opened up Fiji waters to surfers and argues that the 2010 Act does not provide for protection and fair compensation to landowners for the use of their resource nor does it demarcate specific surfing areas thus overriding traditional qoliqoli rights.

“There needs to be wide and thorough consultations on this. The Coalition Government must not repeat the mistakes made by the SDL Government in 2006 over its predecessor the Qoliqoli Bill.”

Chaudhry said widespread controversy arose when the Qarase Government tried to push through the contentious Qoliqoli Bill in 2006.

“It had met strong opposition from the tourism industry, the RFMF as well as human rights and civil society groups.”

“Opposition had also come from ordinary citizens who were owners of residential or agricultural properties located close to the foreshore or on the banks of inland waterways.”

“Attempts to demarcate such areas could interfere with the free passage of people and vessels through our foreshores and coastal waters. It could also curtail people’s right to freedom of movement to enjoy rivers and oceans for recreational purposes.”

“While one is sympathetic to the rights of resource owners, in a modern nation these rights must be balanced against the rights of minority groups and the economic and social interests of the nation,” he further stated.

Reginald Chandar
Reginald Chandar
Head of News & Sports | news@fijilive.com

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