Friday, 11 July 2008

Beauty under water - Fiji Times Online

Sunday, June 01, 2008

TWENTY years ago villagers of Waitabu on the north eastern coast of Taveuni would never a give a second thought about their reefs or what dwelled on their shores. They walked on the reefs breaking the corals and took home whatever they could eat no matter how small.

There was heavy seaweed growth because there was no more fish to feed on it.

The state of the Waitabu Village coast was so pathetic that at first sight, Helen Sykes, a marine ecologist, had no hope it could return to its natural state and refused when approached by the community to set up a marine protected area (MPA) or tabu on their fishing ground. But with the community's continual persistence Ms Sykes agreed.

As the project began, the community was constantly reminded that once the tabu was in place, they were to respect it. They were taught not to disturb the area by taking boats through the MPA or break any corals or take anything out whether it be fish, invertebrates or any dead coral. They were also not allowed to use poles when sailing across the tabu area or anchor their boats as it would damage the corals.

Ms Sykes then held workshops with the villagers to monitor the tabu area. The monitoring was done to find out whether there was an improvement in the tabu area and if not, what could be done about it.

Beauty under water - Fiji Times Online

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