The MMAS Program selected Fiji as a Focus Area because of its rich diversity of marine species, strong cultural and economic ties to the ocean, and unique, centuries-old tradition of managing ocean resources at the village level. Recently Fiji’s government committed to establishing a large network of marine management areas (MMAs). We are contributing to this important initiative by providing scientific information that can be used to enhance MMA effectiveness. We incorporate the findings into our global initiative to identify successful marine conservation practices.
We collaborate with the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network to identify research needs and to develop work plans. Our research projects are investigating ecological and genetic connections among populations and habitats; economic and cultural importance of marine resources; and ecological, socioeconomic, and cultural outcomes of marine managed areas. We are also assessing the effectiveness and contribution of existing marine managed areas in addressing threatened and endemic species and their critical habitats.
Core Ecological Monitoring. We are using standardized protocols to track ecological changes inside and outside marine management areas in Fiji and the other three MMAS Program Focus Areas. We use the data to monitor ecosystem health and biodiversity, and we contribute the information to adaptive management processes. Jean-François Bertrand (Boston University) and James Comely and Semisi Meo (University of the South Pacific) are conducting our ecological monitoring in Fiji. View the Work Plan >>
Core Socioeconomic Monitoring. In conjunction with Core Ecological Monitoring, we use standardized methods to track socioeconomic changes associated with MMAs in our Focus Areas. In Fiji, Sakiusa Patrick Fong (University of the South Pacific) conducts our socioeconomic monitoring. View the Work Plan >>
Extinction Resistance. We participate in a collaborative regional initiative to evaluate the role of MMAs in sustaining imperiled species. We are identifying key factors to be considered when designing and managing MMAs to support these species. In Fiji, Paul Anderson (Secretariat for the Pacific Regional Environment Program) leads our research. View the Work Plan >>
Connectivity of Populations and Habitats
Genetic Analysis of Reef Fish. Joshua Drew (Boston University) analyzed the genes of several fish species and found that Fiji’s fish are distinct from others of the same species living elsewhere in the South Pacific. The study demonstrated that it is essential to protect Fiji’s fish from excessive harvests and other threats because they have unique genetic characteristics and their populations are not sustained by arrival of young fish from elsewhere. After hearing our findings, leaders of a Fijian village decided to create a marine management area in their local waters. View the Work Plan >>
Economic, Social, and Cultural Significance of Marine Resources
Value of Natural Resources. Isoa Korovulavula (University of the South Pacific) is assessing the monetary value of natural resources associated with Fiji’s marine management areas and the economic implications of future management scenarios. The findings enable resource managers, educators, and conservationists to build support for marine conservation and to prioritize among management options. View the Work Plan >>
Cultural Roles. Joeli Veitayaki (University of the South Pacific) is conducting interviews and focus groups in Fijian villages to understand how cultural practices and values influence the outcomes of marine resource management. View the Work Plan >>
The MMAS Program partners with various stakeholders such as government agencies, not-for-profit organizations, and other members of the Fijian community through the FLMMA network. The following are some of our partners:
- Fiji Government
- Department of Environment
- Ministry of Fisheries and Forests
- Ministry of Fijian Affairs
- Ministry of Tourism
- Mamanuca Environment Society
- University of the South Pacific
- Resort Support
- Wildlife Conservation Society
- Cakaudrove Yaubula Support Team
- Kubulau Qoliqoli Management Committee
We work closely with our partners in Fiji to plan and conduct Science-to-Action activities, which use scientific findings to improve marine management.
- We established a partnership with the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network (FLMMA) to conduct Science-to-Action activities and to develop a FLMMA communications plan.
- Through meetings held in eight Fijian communities, findings about the uniqueness of Fiji’s reef fish were shared and discussed with scientists, village leaders, and representatives of FLMMA. After the meetings, community members in Nagigi village said they wanted to establish local MMAs. A planning workshop was held in Nagigi village in January 2009.
- In meetings with the Fiji government to present our research results, we highlighted the need for stronger enforcement of marine management areas and for increased government support of the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network.
- During a NOAA-MPA training workshop, MMAS-funded scientists presented findings about the varying degrees of genetic connectivity among Fiji’s reef fish populations. Participants from numerous organizations in the region said they would use the information to help design more effective MMAs.
- Two of our partners – FLMMA and PCDF – developed posters that illustrate key findings of the genetic connectivity studies. The posters have been used in numerous discussions with village chiefs, national policymakers, and other target audiences. The posters have also been distributed to Pacific Regional partners. One poster is being adapted for the Caribbean, where it will be used in a regional campaign to protect coral reefs.
- We designed socioeconomic monitoring methods to meet the needs of an ecosystem-based management (EBM) effort coordinated by WWF and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
- We produced a DVD of brief video segments that present our reef connectivity findings in an engaging way for non-scientists. Created by scientist Steve Palumbi with Garthwait & Griffin Films, the DVD is called Nai Talanoa Ni Kua Mai Na Noda Veicakau (Stories of Today from the Reef).
Building Skills and Knowledge
The Marine Management Area Science Program provides training, workshops, and other resources that enable people in Fiji to develop their skills and knowledge for conservation. Recent examples:
- Scuba training for underwater research
- Public lectures in Fiji to share MMAS research findings
- Workshops on social science research methods
- Opportunities for Fijian graduate students and scientists to gain practical experience in ecological monitoring
- Support for two Fijian scientists to present their research at the Coral Reef Symposium in Florida
Science-to-Action Coordinator (Fiji)
For information about MMAS Program activities in Fiji, please contact: