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Village by village - recovering Fiji’s coastal fisheries

Aalbersberg, William G.L. and Tawake, Alifereti and Parras, T. (2005) Village by village - recovering Fiji’s coastal fisheries. [Professional and Technical Reports]

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IN THE EARLY 1990s, RESIDENTS OF UCUNIVANUA VILLAGE, ON THE EASTERN COAST OF Fiji's largest island, realized that the marine resources they depended on were becoming scarce. Village elders remembered when a woman could collect several bags of large kaikoso clams, a food staple and important source of income, in just a few hours. By the 1990s, however, a woman could spend all day on the mudflats and come home with only half a bag of small clams. The decline of Ucunivanua's marine heritage reflects a larger pattern of depletion repeated throughout the Fiji islands. A combination of greater commercial fishing and larger local subsistence harvests have left most of Fiji's coastal waters overfished, sometimes heavily so. Rural Fijians, who constitute half of Fiji's population of nearly 900,000, have been hurt. Most of these villagers still lead a traditional subsistence-based livelihood, communally drawing on local marine resources for at least part of their daily protein and income. In the past, the abundance of the marine catch meant a moderate level of affluence and food security. With that abundance gone, the pressure on village economies has mounted, leaving 30-35 percent of rural households in Fiji below the official poverty line. But Fijians are fighting back, village by village, linked by a network of communities that carefully regulate the use of their coastal waters, slowly restoring their productivity. Although these locally managed marine areas (LMMAs) are an innovation of the last decade, they call on a rich tradition of village management of ocean resources. In this new incarnation, traditional local conservation practices are blended with modern methods of monitoring and energized by the full participation of members of the community, who design and implement the marine management plans. The goal is to bolster local incomes and traditions by replenishing local waters, a grassroots approach to rural development. Ucunivanua was the site of the first locally managed marine area in Fiji, and its results have been dramatic. Since local management began seven years ago, the kaikoso clam has once again become abundant, and village incomes have risen significantly. The Ucunivanua project set aside the usual mind-set that only experts know best and that development occurs only when planned by governments. Instead, it let the ultimate choices, the decisions that determine a project's success or failure, rest with the people most dependent on the resources for their livelihoods. The success in Ucunivanua has led to the adoption of LMMAs throughout Fiji, Asia, and the Pacific region (Aalbersberg 2003; Aalbersberg and Tawake 2005; Gell and Tawake 2002; Tawake and Aalbersberg 2002; Tawake et al. 2001).

Item Type: Professional and Technical Reports
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fisheries-Fiji,Fishery management-Fiji
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
S Agriculture > SH Aquaculture. Fisheries. Angling
Divisions: Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) > Institute of Applied Science
Depositing User: Ms Niumai Kavoa
Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2005 22:15
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2012 22:15

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