Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Waitui Tabu: Marine Conservation in Macuata continued

and there's more!

This is a summary from a Conservation article I found when googling 'Macuata'.

Scoping Established “Tabu” Areas

Two weeks prior to the Fiji Islands Marine Ecoregion (FIME) "Big Win" Event in November 2005 which was held at the chiefly village Naduri, a team comprised of the qoliqoli (traditional fishing grounds) committee members and WWF Fiji staff carried out follow up consultations regarding the status of tabu areas established by communities during a consultation workshop some seven months earlier. A second team included six Peace Corps volunteers based at villages along the network of tabu areas of the I qoliqoli Cokovata and a WWF Fiji Country staff scoped the established network of tabu areas and marked its boundaries for the whole purpose of quantifying the estimated area of marine protection by the community and the set up of marker bouys for these tabu areas especially the main tabu area Talailau mangrove island, in preparation for the launch of the network of tabu (protected) areas.
The crucial role the vanua provides in the existing social system from the yasana (province) to tikina (district) to yavusa (tribe) to mataqali (clan) to tokatoka (household) level is evidently intact.

It has been a learning experience during our 3 week stay at Naduri village where the Tui Macuata (Chief of Macuata Province) resides. Seeing the commitment of a chief and his people towards protecting their mangroves, islands and coral reefs against the range of challenges from capitalism to a web of anthropogenic influences such as illegal and exploitative fishing, bad agricultural practices and unmanaged industrial development has been inspiring. A commitment envisioned by the chief and his communities: Siga Damu a Vanua encapsulates the promise of a new day as the hues of a sunset paints the sky-a war cry in tradition to rise up to the challenge of establishment of a network of tabu areas, the first in Fiji at such a scale.

Talailau: An island of special significance

This was island highlighted during the launch of the network of tabu areas in Macuata. Prior to the placement of the 4 marker bouys demarcating the boundaries of the tabu area of 19.24 around Talailau, it took several boat trips and a scope around the reefs fringing the island to realize the nature of the tabu area earmarked to be the showcase of the MPA network in preparation to be launched. In addition to its ecological importance, this mangrove island has special cultural significance and regarded as the fish basket of the province, which fish caught for cultural ceremonies are taken from Talailau’s reefs. It is situated 3km off the main coastline of Macuata, about a half hours punt ride weaving by the many mangrove islands which dot the coastline.

Kia: an island on the Great Sea Reef

Towards the upper end of the notch on the band of barrier reef which make up the Great Sea Reef, lies Kia with an island area of 2 During the scoping exercise carried out for the mapping of the tabu areas and the placement of marker buoys throughout the Macuata Tabu Area Network, Kia Island has made an impression. At such far flung distance of 24km from the mainland Vanua Levu, by first glance, Kia seems lost out in the ocean, an arid place devoid of lush vegetation surrounded by deep blue waters.

According to its profile as a tabu area established by community, the breaks in the barrier reef are regarded as spawning areas for much of the local fisheries and important commercial fish species such as the endangered humphead wrasse. This is one of the few undiscovered places for diving in the Fiji group which boasts high coral cover and large marine fauna.

These marine protected areas in Macuata were the first of a series of MPAs that will form one of the world’s largest networks of underwater sanctuaries.

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