Turning the Tide for Coastal Fisheries

Entry Overview

Integrated ridge to reef management as solution to unsustainable fishing and improper land use in Kubulau District, Fiji
Entrant Image: 
Kubulau Business and Development Committee
22 Daku Road
16° 46' 47.6796" S, 179° 20' 17.1996" E
Describe the problem: 

In 1984, the chiefs of Kubulau noticed a declining fisheries stock from over harvesting by unsustainable fishing practices. The people of Kubulau embarked on an integrated approach to salvage this situation. The Kubulau Resource Management Committee (KRMC) with assistance from NGOs established Fiji’s premier Ecoystem Based Management (EBM) plan. A network of 20 MPAs was created within the Kubulau traditional fishing grounds encompassing 17 traditional-style periodic closures and 3 permanent no-take reserves. [Refer to youtube link] Information from ongoing data collection and analysis is utilized to improve the existing EBM plan to ensure biodiversity protection. The anticipated results will create social and capital resilience and develop alternative livelihoods.

Biodiversity Impact: 
The Kubulau MPA network combines the most successful elements of the Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) network with MPA design principles for biodiversity conservation that take advantage of both traditional and western approaches to marine coastal fisheries management. Initial placement of MPAs was based on design criteria that considered size, spacing, and representation of habitats and critical processes (e.g., spawning aggregations) in a multispecies framework. In the 17 fisheries closures, compliance is high because they are within sight of and fall under the secure customary tenure of one village. Management rules are respected due to strong local support for village chiefs and participatory management processes that have provided opportunities for community members to become engaged in decision-making and active in management implementation. In the 3 large, no-take reserves, fish biomass is exceptional because reserve: size is greater than the home range of most species; location occurs in naturally productive habitats, in some cases at great distances from potential poachers; and protection has been enforced for over 6 years. Furthermore, the KRMC and local managers have taken steps to control threats to coastal zone from land based activities. For example, the Kubulau communities have banned construction of pigsties within 30m of mangrove areas to reduce nutrient pollution into the coastal zone.
Human Well Being and Livelihood Impact: 
While surveys of fish biomass within the Kubulau traditional fishing ground by the Wildlife Conservation Society between 2007 and 2009 indicated significantly greater fish biomass inside most of the MPAs than adjacent areas, they also indicated a temporal increase in fish biomass in areas open to fishing at nearly all sites surveyed, suggesting possible early evidence of spillover or a reduction in fishing pressure from more effective management. Either way, the net result is more fish available for sale and consumption. The biological data were supported by perceptions of Kubulau residents (approximately 1000 total in the district) that their livelihoods had improved since the establishment of the MPA network. In comparisons of household surveys between 2005 and 2009, community members indicated a much more optimistic view about the general state of the marine habitat by 2009, with respondents stating that fish abundance, size and diversity were all increasing. In addition, with the Coral Reef Alliance, we have supported the development of a payment for ecosystem service initiative, whereby visitors to the Namena Marine Reserve purchase a dive tag prior to snorkeling or diving in the Reserve. The dive tag revenue brings in approximately US$13,500 per year which is used for scholarships to tertiary institutions for Kubulau youth, community development projects and management costs. To date, there have been 130 scholarship recipients. // The Kubulau Resource Management Committee (KRMC) is tasked with promoting and supporting sustainable management of natural resources in Kubulau District. The KRMC reports directly to the Kubulau hierarchy council of chiefs, who ultimately must endorse all decisions related to resource management affecting the district. It is composed of one representative from each of the 10 villages plus a chair. The main functions of the committee are to: coordinate implementation of the management activities identified in the Kubulau ridge-to-reef plan; raise awareness of the management rules and activities; coordinate enforcement; organise training on sustainable resource management and alternative livelihoods; liaise with stakeholders; and monitor implementation progress. More recently, the Kubulau Business Development Committee (KBDC) was established with a goal to assist the KRMC and the council of chiefs to maintain stewardship over their resources. This committee is made up of members of Kubulau people who live in Suva (Fiji‘s capital) and provide various technical skills that complement the existing management plan. It’s main functions are to: assess proposed resource use and development activities, to ensure they are consistent with this management plan, national laws and ecosystem‐based management principles; provide information and advice alternative livelihood opportunities; and assist the KRMC to transparently manage and distribute revenue generated by eco-tourism and other small business ventures for resource management and community development.
How many years has your solution been applied 6 years // Have others reproduced your solution elsewhere? Yes // The MPAs are collectively managed under Fiji's first ecosystem based or ridge-to-reef management plan, which includes rules for the closures, gear and species bans for the broader fishing rights area, and rules governing activities in the linked freshwater and terrestrial habitats within the district. This Kubulau resource management plan has been endorsed in 2009 by the ten chiefs of the district. The planning process was informed by extensive scientific and socioeconomic research, as well as local and traditional ecological knowledge. The plan contains tables of rules for each habitat which indicate whether the rule is sourced from national legislation or community consensus. Each rule is coupled to a list of management actions, with responsible parties designated for carrying out each action (e.g. using a net in the sea within 100m of the mouth of a river or stream is prohibited, the management action for this is monitoring by fish wardens and reporting breaches to Fisheries department). The plan also contains different options for enforcement, depending on whether the offender is in breach of a law or customary rule, as well as a framework for changing rules in response to environmental change in order to flexibly and adaptive manage Kubulau's coastal and marine resources. In July 2011, we helped the KRMC to review and adapt their plan based on new information about reef resilience and riparian condition collected by the Wildlife Conservation Society.
The largest of the 3 permanent no-take reserves, the Namena Marine Reserve, is known for its world class diving due to steep walls and strong currents that support high diversity at all trophic levels. Fish diversity estimates from rapid surveys in 2003 showed comparable biodiversity to sites in Indonesia (West Bali, West Java) and Papua New Guinea (New Britain). Surveys in 2009 estimated approximately 73% of the total Fijian coral reef fish fauna within and adjacent to the reserve, including the humphead wrasse and bumphead parrotfish, listed as Endangered and Vulnerable, respectively, on the IUCN Red-List. The overall advantage to the community of Kubulau has been over whelming and this has prompted the communities to protect and focus on issues of food security, livelihoods and poaching. This has provided the incentive to patrol and enforce the area. In addition, the network was designed to protect species during their larval and adult movements. At 60 km2, the Namena Marine Reserve is the largest MPA in Fiji, providing adequate feeding and breeding habitat for a diverse range of species (including turtles, whales, dolphins, and sharks). In total, the Kubulau MPA network covers more than 30% of the traditional fishing ground, with spacing optimized to promote connectivity between inshore and offshore habitats. // Land area: 98.5 km2 Marine area: 261.6 km2

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