In June GVI Fiji’s Marine Research & Conservation Team facilitated a Yaubula Management Support Team (YMST) Meeting for the Nacula Tikina (District). Yaubula translates to the environment or more literally to the community of living things on land and in the sea. The goal of setting up a YMST is to promote the sustainable development and utilisation of natural resources by improving coordination and communication between stakeholders. YMST’s are a function and extension of Fiji’s provincial coucils and are officially recognised once the structure and participatory communities and representatives are formalised. These teams aim to improve natural resource management at provincial level by setting common goals for community stakeholders in Fiji. This meeting was held to formalise the Nacula Tikina YMST, designate official roles within the committee, and create a Tikina Nacula Management Action Plan.
GVI Fiji works in partnership with the Fiji Locally-Managed Marine Area Network (LMMA) which is made up of a network of practitioners and organisation involved in various community-based marine conservation projects around the globe, primarily in the Indo-Pacific, which aim to create a forum for best practice and knowledge exchange. The ultimate goal of the network is to facilliate effective natural resource management through locally sustained management efforts. As communities are the centre of FLMMA’s core focus, YMSTs are critical tool for organising communities in an effective and efficient way in keeping with current conservation strategies and best practice.
The Role of Yaubula Management Support Teams
- Improve Environmental Awareness
- Support Environmental Conservation
- Improve Sustainability of Communities
- Measure Resource Health and Changes to livelihood quality
YMST’s are expected to attend and frequently update village, district and provincial council meetings on yaubula (fishing and farming areas) management activities within the village, district and province. Community-based adaptive management is promoted by FLMMA and YMST’s. These teams work as a bottom-up approach by responding to communities needs while referencing and developing a local resource management plan.
The GVI Fiji team began the June meeting by summarising the objectives of a YMST and continued by outlining the main focuses and aim of the GVI Marine Conseravtion program in the Yasawas and within the Nacula Tikina. GVI emphasised that the survey data and findings were available for and could be utilised by the YMST. Specifically, GVI’s capacity to carry out biological monitoring and community outreach & education operations, could be tied in with the aims and plans of village management plans. All data GVI collects is reported back to communities and is shared with the YMST to enable informed decision making.
The members of the YMST discussed current natural resource issues within the District and brainstormed solutions to problems raised in order to form a draft management action plan. At the request of the YMST, GVI agreed to assist the YMST to create village profiles within the Nacula Tikina. Members then elected individuals and assigned formal roles within the Yaubula Management Support Team.
After GVI’s Introduction and presentation, the newly formed YMST then commenced their official meeting. During the meeting participants emphasised that the communities across the region have continued to notice the affects of the changing climate and expressed growing concern about resources. It was emphasised that Marine and fisheries resources are extremely important and therefore monitoring and sustainable management of such resources needs to be effective.
The elected Nacula Tikina YMST assistant coordinator, Tito Elo, discussed his experience as a representative of the YMST to the FLMMA Annual General meeting in Navikakaka, Savu Savu in December 2012, where he attended a workshop that reviewed the best practices for community resource management outcomes where communities and FLMMA members shared ‘lessons learned’.
The updated tabu area map for the Tikina Nacula created by GVI with the support of local communities was discussed and YMST members confirmed the map has been distributed within villages. GVI recapped the importance and role of Fish wardens, YMST members requested that GVI attend village meetings to provide more awareness for communities regarding marine and environmental concerns.
GVI discussed the importance of biological monitoring when opening and closing tabu areas, alternative livelihoods and potential opportunities for income generation in the future, adding emphasis on the importance of socio-economic monitoring. GVI presented options to fund potential alternative livelihood projects and information on how to create grant proposals, reminding committee members of the importance of inviting and including key stakeholders such as resorts to support initiatives.
In September 2013 the Ba Provincial Council Meeting recognised and endorsed the Nacula Tikina YMST. This recognition by the province will afford responsibility for the operation and sustainability of the YMST. GVI will continue to help support the function and continuation of the YMST through our resources and expertise and use this forum to spread further awareness and inform decision making based on our research and ongoing conservation efforts in the region.