Submitted by Reef Check Fiji Coordinator, Helen Sykes
Coordinator Helen Sykes recently sent in an update on the three main programs that make up Reef Check Fiji:
- Annual monitoring of sites across the country, and the creation of reports on Fiji’s long-term reef health feeding into global reports and government policy, supported by Fiji’s tourism dive operators
This annual monitoring is entirely supported by donations of time, accommodation and diving support from many organizations. We are midway in the annual monitoring, but early results suggest that the reef system in Fiji is continuing its upward trend of recovery. Fiji underwent a mass mortality from coral bleaching in 2000 and 2002, but Reef Check surveys revealed that coral cover has recovered to pre-bleaching levels after 5 years, and is currently higher than ever recorded.
- Community-based monitoring informing management of Fiji’s Locally Managed Marine Protected Areas, (FLMMA network) specifically Waitabu Marine Park
Waitabu Marine Park is one of Fiji’s longest standing locally-managed marine protected areas, and a founder member of the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Protected Areas network. In February 2011, the Waitabu village Reef Check team underwent retraining and took part in the annual monitoring of their marine park.
- Internship programs involving students from local and international universities who carry out various research projects within the marine environment with topics ranging from the impacts of the marine aquarium trade and of coastal tourism to the development and design of marine protected areas (MPAs)
A series of students from the USA gave their time to take part in surveys designed to increase our knowledge of the effectiveness of MPAs. Reef Check surveys were carried out every 50 meters across and outside an MPA, in order to determine at what point protection becomes effective, and whether there are actual “spill-over” effects at the boundaries into the neighboring fishing grounds. Preliminary results are very interesting, and have implications for future management of MPAs. Two interns from the Netherlands are currently doing more work.
Reports and information can be downloaded from www.marineecologyfiji.com
Photo credit(s): Reef Check Fiji