The Adventures of Joji Goby

Like fish (and invertebrate) puppets? Want to see environmental education in action? Then watch this short video we have made about a recent WCS Fiji trip to five schools in Kubulau and Wainunu districts to launch our comic “The Adventures of Joji Goby” with puppet shows. The puppets were made from recycled materials by Anne O’Brien of Anniemals. The project was kindly supported by the Disney Friends for Change Programme.

Fiji Youth Ministry takes up the environmental challenge

Children in Wailevu district, Cakaudrove, with mangrove seeds. Photo (c) Stacy Jupiter

Environmental issues will be at the heart of Fiji’s youth agenda – helping young people to address key environmental challenges. WCS Fiji attended a recent Ministry of Youth and Sport consultation workshop to inform strategies and plans for this new Ministry.

The workshop identified barriers and gaps affecting the engagement of young people and made recommendations for the Ministry, including:

  • Capacity building on youth engagement for traditional leaders (particularly Turaga ni Koro through i-Taukei Affairs)
  • Influence existing church and youth groups to tackle environmental challenges
  • Involve young people in monitoring their local environment
  • Incorporate climate change awareness/adaptation (in a Fijian context) into the national curriculum – empowering young people to participate in informed community debate and decision making processes
  • Showcase/promote good practice in youth engagement

We look forward to supporting the Ministry and young people in Fiji to make a better future for all.

Debate on shark feeding in Fiji

A grey reef shark is an impressive sight in Fiji's waters

Shark dive tourism is a lucrative and booming global market. Feeding to attract sharks to divers has generated significant concerns, with many criticisms focusing on the potential for ecological and behavioral impacts. A lecture by Mike Neumann, an established dive operator practicing shark feeding at Shark Reef Marine Reserve on Fiji’s Coral Coast, informed lively discussion this week.

Mike highlighted recent research from the University of Miami (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iFl7BxbnXQ) showing that sharks from Barbados (where shark feeding is common) maintain similar territories and long-distance feeding forays as sharks in Florida, where there is no shark feeding.

Visitors attracted to see the big sharks are making a significant contribution to the local economy on and help communities ‘monitise’ the benefits of Marine Protected Areas. Mike’s business also raises awareness of the habitat degradation and unsustainable fishing (mainly due to the high value of shark fins) that contribute to a rapidly decreasing shark population in the Pacific.

Given the research findings, Mike and others believe that that shark diving tourism should be accepted as a part of the conservation landscape in Fiji and put the onus on those who disagree to provide evidence demonstrating otherwise.

Enigmatic dolphins & whales from the Bay of Bengal

Staff from WCS Fiji joined their WCS Bangladesh counterparts in conducting research on dolphins and whales found in the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh. For WCS Fiji Field Officers, Margaret Fox and Waisea Naisilisili, this research was part of their training on how to conduct whale and dolphin surveys, with their new skills to be put into practice in Fiji.

It was the first time in this region for the two Fijians and they had an amazing experience in working with the WCS staff from Bangladesh and soaking up the lifestyle and culture of this country. The highlights of their trip started with their journey downriver where they encountered the enigmatic river dolphins, the Irrawaddy and Ganges River dolphins, through to the Sundarban Reserve. This reserve boasts the largest block of mangrove forest in the world and hosts a multitude of species including the rare Royal Bengali tigers, crocodiles, monkeys, deer, various birds, fish, mammals and plants. They continued on to the Bay of Bengal where they conducted extensive studies on the resident but timid Humpback dolphins while also encountering pods of Bottlenose dolphins, Finless porpoises and a Bryde’s Whale.

This intense and informative research trip provided a great insight on the biodiversity and human induced impacts on natural resources from another region, while also training the WCS Fiji staff on the various methodologies that can be applied when conducting scientific surveys on dolphins and whales in Fiji.

 

First steps to clean drinking water

Well-forested water catchments are the perfect way to manage and maintain drinking water supply. A small group from WCS Fiji last week visited Nadivakarua and Namalata, two villages in Kubulau District, Bua Province, to map out their water sources and assess any environmental threats to the future sustainability of the water source. Protecting the catchment immediately surrounding the water source is the first step to having a reliable source of clean water for the future.

Following the survey, Namalata village has decided to draw a 200 metre radius buffer around their water source where farming and clearing will be prohibited. Currently, farming has crept up to around 50 metres from the water source in places, meaning that the water source is at risk of drying up in a drought. Already, the water source is only a small creek which is a worrying sign.

The survey found a well-forested area around the water source for Nadivakarua village – village elders agree this water source has never dried up, even when some other villages in Kubulau district run short of water during the dry season. Nadivakarua have marked a track around the water source, to make sure that farming doesn’t encroach on the forest near the source. These community decisions will be incorporated into the Kubulau ecosystem-based management plan which is currently being updated as part of an adaptive management process.