Fiji Times News - 12 December 2011
by Fred Wesley
|Kubulau, Bua from the air|
In 1984 when chiefs of Kubulau in Bua, Vanua Levu noticed a decline in their fisheries stock, they realised they had to act quickly. They realised the implications of not doing anything to address the issue urgently.
They saw the danger it forecast for their people and the impact it would have on their livelihood.
They bit the bullet so to speak, and embarked on an integrated campaign to address it.
With help from non-governmental organisations, they set up the Kubulau Resource Management Committee and the rest, as they would say, is history.
The committee formed a network of 20 marine protected areas within the Kubulau traditional fishing grounds or qoliqoli and thus began the campaign to build up their stock.
Their effort and foresight has ensured the restocking of their qoliqoli and opportunities that would support alternative livelihoods.
It encourages and promotes a healthy eco-system and ocean.
What was encouraging was the fact that the campaign received the support of members of the community and chiefs.
In keeping with the general direction the community and chiefs had outlined, villages have banned construction of pigsties within 30 metres of mangrove areas. The move is designed to reduce nutrient pollution into the sea.
Aside from the restocking of their qoliqoli, six years on, the chiefs and villagers are left with lucrative alternatives such as a world class diving spot in one of their three permanent no-take reserves at Namena Marine Reserve.
Fish diversity estimates from surveys in 2003 were comparative to sites in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
Surveys by the Wildlife Conservation Society between 2007 and 2009 showed greater fish biomass inside most of the MPAs than adjacent areas and indicated an increase in fish biomass in areas open to fishing.
Apart from the increase in fish stocks and greater opportunities to make ends meet daily, the people of Kubulau are also reaping rewards from their diving site, subsequently this financial gain has been diverted to the education of their children.
It comes as no surprise then that Kubulau's effort has been internationally recognised and is in the top 10 of the first Solution Search contest launched by Rare and National Geographic dedicated to finding community-based solutions for global environmental issues.
Kubulau is among top entries from countries around the world like Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey and Madagascar.
The people of Kubulau deserve a pat on the back for this initiative.
A panel of seven judges selected the top 10 finalists and you can vote for Kubulau on www.solutionsearch.com.org