May 28, 2018

Safeguarding Fiji's Reefs- Episode 2 of 3

The following is the second in a three part series about a small island in Fiji. Follow along in the coming weeks as we uncover the whole story and check out the associated video serires here.

Maraia Somi: “The look of the sea is different from before. And corals, there were many kinds of coral. We see the corals, all dead. And the fishes that we see before, won’t be able to see that much nowadays.”

Food security is especially concerning in Oneata, where the distance from the main Fijian islands limits access to food markets. Traditionally-owned fishing areas called iqoliqoli have been used for generations, but overfishing has dramatically decreased catch sizes and catch amounts. On a recent field visit to Oneata, the community requested the help of the Coral Reef Alliance to address overfishing concerns.

Soko Ledua, the head of the local fishing group, is one of the community members who worries about the future of fishing in Oneata. For decades, fishermen have sought out the highly-prized sea cucumber, which can have a market value upwards of 50 US dollars each. But like the reefs, populations of sea cucumbers are declining.

“Before, just in front here, we just catching (sea cucumbers) here, twenty, forty pieces per day. But here, let’s see, yesterday here we are catching only seven. If we keep on harvesting this one, maybe ten years left…”

Last year, CORAL held a planning session and workshop with communities in Oneata to help identify challenges and successes with the current management efforts of their iqoliqoli. That meeting inspired a number of solutions that are specifically tailored to Oneata’s needs.

For example, CORAL is working with the Ministry of Fisheries in Fiji to train the local fishing group and community on best practices for sustainable fishing. Fishermen will learn how to measure the appropriate catch size for different fish species, and will train to become fish wardens of the iqoliqoli, to better protect it from outside fishing pressure.

CORAL is also establishing partnerships in Oneata to create aquaculture systems in exchange for strong community commitment to avoid overfishing in the marine reserve. One such system is a mollusk and lobster aquaculture pilot program, which will provide a source of food and livelihood for the community while the iqoliqoli recovers.

This is the first time that CORAL is tackling aquaculture, and what we love most about this collaboration with Oneata is that the ideas were generated by members of the community. This project will be an important model for how to finance conservation on remote coral reefs that don’t have access to revenue from tourism, and will be scalable to other remote areas of Fiji.

Learn more at

May 11, 2018

Safeguarding Fiji's Reefs - Episode 1 of 3

The following is the first of a three part story about a small island in Fiji. Follow along in the coming weeks as the story unfolds and check out the associated video series here:

Deep in the South Pacific, there is a small island called Oneata, which is one of the three hundred and twenty-two islands that make up the Fijian Archipelago. This network of islands encompasses one of the most extensive coral reef systems in the world, and is a critical site for coral reef conservation, with an astounding 42 percent of the world’s coral species. Unfortunately, Fiji’s coral reefs are declining rapidly due to global threats like climate change and local threats like overfishing.

The Coral Reef Alliance, or CORAL for short, has worked with communities in Fiji for over fifteen years to promote sustainable management systems for fisheries and corals. CORAL initially began working with the Kubalau community in Bua Province, as they established The Namena Marine Reserve, Fiji’s largest locally managed marine area. The Namena Marine Reserve is a top global dive site, and it also provides tangible benefits to the Kubalau community in the form of increased fish size and number of catches, as well as dive tag fees from tourists. The funds from the dive tag system cover management costs of the reserve, fund community infrastructure projects like bus shelters and have provided scholarships to over two-hundred students to date.

The people of Oneata rely heavily on coral reefs to support local fishing grounds, and the community’s food security has been threatened by declining reef health and overfishing. Oneata is far from the main islands of Fiji, so there is little tourism revenue. The supply boat comes every few weeks, and while locals do grow their own cassava and vegetables they have to travel great distances to access other food markets. Fishing, therefore, is a vital source of food and income.

The Oneata community reached out to CORAL and asked for help with their locally managed marine area, citing the success of the Namena Marine Reserve. Right now, CORAL is actively working with Oneata to strategize around the creation and implementation of sustainable fishing solutions that will ensure food security and decrease fishing pressure on coral reefs.

Learn more about how CORAL is safeguarding Fiji’s reefs here.

Apr 11, 2018

Youth Lead Beach Cleanups in Bali

In early March, 2018, communities in Amed and Tulamben held coastal cleanups to show their support for the third International Year of the Reef (IYOR). Local communities, Reef Check Foundation Indonesia (RCFI), and the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) encouraged youth participation as part of the event. The cleanups helped stakeholders share information about the impacts of marine debris on marine ecosystems, especially coral reefs, which support numerous living organisms. In these communities, coral reefs are the foundation of the local economy.

On Sunday, March 4, 2018, Rare Tulamben, a youth group in Tulamben village, conducted a coastal cleanup in their neighborhood and along a stretch of beach. In the past, Rare Tulamben held coastal cleanups every Sunday morning, but the volcanic activity of Mount Agung, which led to community evacuations late last year, reduced the frequency and consistency of these cleanups. The community plans to continue these weekly activities as soon as Mount Agung’s volcanic activity decreases. Rare Tulamben is supported by TPST-Tulamben, a local trash management agency.

I Nyoman Suastika, one of the local leaders working with Rare Tulamben, said that the involvement of youth in this kind of activity helps build their awareness of the environment at an early age. Suastika added, “Children usually do cleanups around this area. By doing this, we hope these activities will not only be useful for the children, but also the surrounding community in the future.”

Participants of the Tulamben cleanup collected 110 kg (242 lbs.) of garbage, which was dominated by plastic. In addition, participants found Styrofoam, cigarette butts and fishing gear.  I Gusti Ayu Lakshmi from the RCFI explained that the cleanup was part of the preliminary data collection that can inform future trash management awareness campaigns. Lakshmi shared that she hopes more parties will participate in the future to help encourage waste management at the local level.

The Amed coastal cleanup took place on March 3, 2018 and concentrated on Jemeluk Beach. Participants included youth, representatives of the fishermen community Tunas Mekar, photography community Klik Amed, the waste management non-profit Yayasan Peduli Alam, dive operators and members from adjacent communities. Participants walked approximately six hundred meters on Jemeluk Beach and collected a total of 120 kg (264 lbs.) of garbage.

Most of the waste collected during the Amed coastal cleanup was plastic. Common forms included shopping bags, food wrappers, bottles and straws. Styrofoam comprised the second most common type of trash, followed by fishing gear, which included pieces of nets, fishing line and rope.

I Nengah Polos, a representative of the Klik Amed community, said that “garbage on the beach is usually more common in the rainy season because additional trash is brought by both ocean currents and water flowing from the higher ground. Therefore, this kind of activity should be routinely implemented in addition to reducing sources of waste.”

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