Marine Protected Areas (MPA) are managed in a special way in Fiji. The MPAs are locally protected, which means that they don’t depend on other organisms or institutions. This way, they can provide every protected area with its own rules that are unique to the various Fijian communities. It’s important to know that the ocean environment in Fiji is very diverse as it is an insular country, composed by 322 islands, most of them formed by volcanic activity, in the Pacific Ocean; therefore, there is a need to establish many Marine Protected Areas to capture the diversity of the islands. Local communities are in the best position to manage these areas rather than one governing body as they know them intimately.
They are part of the LMMA (Locally Managed Marine Areas) network. The objective of this network is to provide information and resources to local communities in order to allow them to protect their own areas. This includes training in every aspect of any conservation project, from monitoring to fundraising. Also, they can cross-visit another areas to share knowledge about marine areas preservation. Some habitats, like coral reefs or mangroves, need a stricter protection so they have to give some additional incentives to local communities.
How Do Locally Managed Marine Areas Work?
The way they work is by establishing an area with some restricted areas for fishing. These kind of areas could be species-specific refuges or no-take areas, which means that they won’t use it for fishing for a year, usually, in order to let the population grow. They are always fishing with traditional techniques, not with industrial ones. You can see the scheme of an area in the next image:
But this is not about conservation itself. This is about helping locals to use their environment on a sustainable way. By protecting the area, they will improve habitat quality so they will increase fish population and as a result they will increase the income from marine resources. This project teaches them that if they protect the sea, they will assure their own survival.
The Locally Managed Marine Areas strategy to managing ocean resources are used in Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Pohnpei and Palau.
Could we apply this model in developed countries where pressures from large scale fisheries industries, oil and gas industries, and coastal development?
Are there economic benefits for these industries to protect the Oceans?
Let us know in the comments below!