Locally Managed Marine Areas increase fish stocks and tourism revenue in Fiji

Locally Managed Marine Areas increase fish stocks and tourism revenue in Fiji

IMPACT

Before communities decided to establish and manage the Kubulau marine protected area (MPA) network, local fishers reported declining yields and uncontrolled fishing by non-local, commercial boats. In 2005, 10 communities formed the Kubulau Resource Management Committee. Fishers reported an increase in reef health, fish biomass and fish catch between 2005 and 2009 in the Namena Marine Reserve, the largest no-take MPA in Fiji. WCS reef surveys corroborated the fishers observation. Participating communities also generate additional income from selling dive tags to tourists keen to snorkel and dive in the Namena Marine Reserve. Funds from coral reef tourism have provided over 100 scholarships for local children to further their education when they finish secondary school.

STORY

Throughout the Pacific islands fishing communities have traditionally managed their land and sea resources, through seasonal closures called tabus. Rather than managing their marine resources independently, in 2005, communities in the Kubulau District in Bua Province in Fiji decided to work together. They established a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) covering 80 km2, incorporating 17 tabu areas that are closed to fishing periodically, and three permanent no-take marine reserves. They also proposed a forest reserve to reduce soil erosion and sediment coverage of corals. All were managed under Fiji's first integrated 'ridge-to-reef' plan that covered the entire district.

WCS, together with the Coral Reef Alliance and partners, worked to build trust with local communities, strengthen the MPA network resource management committee, and reinforce their chosen approaches to manage their coastal resources sustainably and benefit from improved fish stocks and water quality.

In just 3-5 years tabu areas were showing increases in fish biomass, fish size, fish diversity, reef health, and catch size. The upper range of fish biomass observed in Namena Marine Reserve now (2643 kg/ha) falls within the range of values reported for Palmyra atoll in the northern Line Islands, which is considered to be ecologically intact with little if any adverse impact from people.

Not surprisingly, given the measurable success of community tabu areas in restoring reef productivity and improving food and income security of local fisher communities, this collaborative, community approach was eagerly shared with other districts, by word of mouth and through village exchanges. Lessons learned and best practices for governing the use of marine resources were also shared through Fiji's Locally Managed Marine Area Network.

WCS was approached by the provincial government in Bua to conduct district-scale planning in each of the nine districts in the Bua Province. By 2011, 95 communities were managing their traditional fishing grounds covering 260 km2 of coastal reefs and 90 km2 of upland forest.

EVIDENCE

Effective Governance IconGOVERNANCE: Before communities decided to establish and manage the Kubulau MPA network, local fishers reported declining yields and uncontrolled fishing by non-local, commercial boats. In 2005, 10 communities formed the Kubulau Resource Management Committee, with the authority to manage a marine protected area network of 80 km2 covering 30% of the traditional fishing grounds of participating communities. By 2012, communities had decided to increase the network from 17 to 24 MPAs cover a total of 120 km2 of coastal reefs.

Wellbeing IconWELL-BEING: Fishers reported an increase in reef health, fish biomass and fish catch between 2005 and 2009. WCS reef surveys corroborated the fishers. Participating communities now generate additional annual revenue from selling dive tags to tourists keen to snorkel and dive in the Namena Marine Reserve. Funds from coral reef tourism has provide over 100 scholarships for local children to pursue their tertiary education.

FURTHER INFORMATION


Members of the Kubulau Natural Resource Management Committee/Stacy Jupiter @WCS


LMMA Planning Discussion/Stacy Jupiter ©WCS


Kubalau Community Member with Giant Trevally/Wayne Moy ©WCS


Coral Reef in the Vatu-i-Ra Conservation Park/James Begeman

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