Fiji’s unique marine biodiversity includes many endangered species and the traditional fishing grounds of each local village represent ecologically, economically and culturally valuable ecosystems.
Fiji’s territory covers an area of 1.3 million square km and over 80% of Fiji’s population live on the coast, relying on marine resources for food and income. Marine resources are also used for construction material, pharmaceuticals and minerals and the diving in Fiji is one of the main attractions for the valuable tourism trade.
Fiji’s coastal and marine ecosystems are under threat from increasing anthropogenic activities, including climate change and coral bleaching, population growth, unsustainable and/or destructive commercial and recreational fishing practices, poorly managed tourism operations, increased coastal development, introduced species, agricultural clearing and run off, pollution and the poachers who are threatening the livelihoods of the traditional resource users.
The reefs of Fiji also have to cope with natural destructive events, such as cyclones and floods. The small size and isolated nature of Fiji makes it extremely susceptible to environmental events like these. It is therefore vital to the future of Fiji that marine resources are sustainably managed.
After consultation with the Dawasamu Environment Movement and Government representatives from the Ministry of Forests & Fisheries, South Pacific Projects helped establish a new Marine Protected Area in Dawasamu Qoliqoli, or traditional fishing grounds. Data collected from this, and other FLMMA established MPAs in the Qoliqoli will be shared with the local community to enable them to make more informed decisions regarding the sustainable management of their marine resources and lead to long-term management plans.
Since the initiation of the project South Pacific Projects has worked in close collaboration with the Department of Fisheries – Research Division and USP to work towards our mutual goal.