Fiji’s Bigger Better Network

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The Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area (FLMMA) network Annual General Meeting 2012 was held in Navakaka village in Cakaudrove in December. FLMMA is a network of communities, government and NGOs involved in marine conservation. Its partners come together in order to learn and act collectively and improve the success of their efforts.  The opening speech by Manager of Provincial Services of the iTaukei Affairs Board, Mr. Timoci Namotu, outlined the workshop objectives (to capture lessons learned and best practice) and the commitment of iTaukei Affairs to supporting sustainable management of natural resources.  

Information and best practice were shared across a wide range of areas including management of Tabu Areas and No Take Zones, reef enrichment and herbivorous fish; land-based activities; and alternative/sustainable income generation.  There was also a review of FLMMA governance and management, with a focus on the role/status of Yaubula Management Support Teams (usually provincial, YMSTs bring partners together to plan natural resource management) in expanding and maintaining the network.

I facilitated discussion on the negative impacts that Land Based Activities have on the marine environment. Participants shared their experience of good practice in this area, including: reforestation of native trees; substituting chemical weed-killers to the collective effort of solesolevaki; and strengthening village by-laws in relation to unnecessary burning. These initiatives have restored and maintained healthy freshwater and marine ecosystems whilst meeting the needs of the communities who rely on them. Subsequent discussion (particularly the grog session!) highlighted growing awareness of these causal chains and frustration that practical measures are not emerging to address them.  There’s definately a need for more collaborative planning across wider areas as part of an Ecosystem-Based Management (or ‘Ridge to Reef’) approach.

Its easy to see why the FLMMA network is internationally acclaimed and so passionately championed by its members. The AGM was a great chance to share knowledge, reflect and refocus. Everyone who took part learned something new and the prominent role of community reps further built their capacity as local leader. The next step is to address the challenges identified as we pursue our goals in 2013 – onwards and upwards!

The FLMMA AGM was co-funded by the ADB Coral Triangle Initiative program and the Packard Foundation Grant through the Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) network.

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