Mapping barriers to fish migration

WCS Fiji field officers recently completed a mission to find hanging culverts in Vanua Levu. Hanging culverts are a major barrier to migration of endemic fish from the oceans to upstream areas. Knowledge of hanging culvert locations will help us evaluate threats to biodiversity in the rivers and creeks of the important corridor between Mt. Kasi in the east, and Mt. Navotuvotu in the west. This will help to focus upcoming biodiversity survey effort on the least obstructed rivers which are likely to still be home to healthy populations of endemic fish.

After a 4am start in Suva, work began in as soon as Waisea and I got off the ferry at Nabouwalu, working our way eastwards from there towards Wailevu East in Cakaudrove. Every dusty, bumpy road or track was explored in search of the troublesome culverts. The survey took a total of 5 days to complete, with approximately 280 culverts being mapped, photographed and described. We identified about one third of these as the type of hanging culvert which blocks fish migration routes.

About 98% of Fiji’s freshwater fauna make contact with the sea to complete their lifecycle. So at certain periods in their lives they migrate down to the sea, and ultimately will need to return upstream to complete their lifecycle. These fish are skilled at navigating natural obstacles on their upstream migrations, but unfortunately culverts which hang away from the river surface present an impossible obstacle even for the most intrepid climbers.

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In recent freshwater surveys in Fiji, the presence of hanging culverts correlated with low species diversity and abundance relative to similar areas without hanging culverts, even in areas where the river was surrounded by intact forest. This implicates the hanging culverts as a possible cause of the decline in fish diversity and abundance.

It can be concluded from the culvert survey that most major catchments which have bridges do not have culverts, whilst small creeks do have culverts. This was a promising sign since most of these major catchments therefore run right up to the headwaters without migration barriers. There were also good indications of intact forest within some areas of Wainunu and Dama districts.

This project is kindly supported by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), a joint program of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank.

New Fish Wardens for 2012

In order to maintain sustainable resources for future generations in the Provinces of Cakaudrove and Bua in Vanua Levu, the communities of Wailevu, Wainunu, Nadi and Solevu have selected some members of their communities to be trained as fish wardens. These fish wardens will be empowered to see that their resources are use in an appropriate way.

This project was kindly supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two 3-day training sessions for the 2012 fish wardens were held: first in Natuvu, Wailevu district, and then in Navatu, Kubulau district. The training in Wailevu was officially opened by the Provincial Administrator Mr Uraia Rainima, and the Roko Tui Cakaudrove Ro Aca Mataitinihad was our chief guest who gave the certificates to the participants on the final day of the training and also officially closed the training.

There were 42 participants that attended the training in Natuvu, 30 participants were from the district of Wailevu and 12 participants were from the neighbouring districts of Somosomo, Saqani, Nakomo, Nanuca and Lekutu. WCS Fiji’s Waisea Naisilisili and Sirilo Dulunaqio were delighted to receive the training to become fish wardens themselves. In Navatu there were 27 participants, 15 from Kubulau and 12 from the neighbouring districts of Wainunu, Nadi and Solevu.

The Kubulau fish warden training was officially opened by Tomasi Cama; in his opening speech he addressed the importance of our connection to our environment through our totem fish, plants and animals. The fish warden training was conducted by Joji Vakawaletabua (Fisheries Department Nasavusavu), Tomasi Cama (Fisheries Department Bua), Nanise Kuridrani Tuqiri and Epeli Tawake (Fisheries Department Labasa) and a police officer from Nasavusavu.

To end the workshop on a positive note, on the final day of the training we managed to tag a male Hawksbill turtle and the participants named it Tui Navatu. Tui Navatu was tagged and released by the two heads of the tribe (yavusa) in Navatu, as the participants looked on. This was a memorable day as we also celebrated the reef enrichment initiative which was launched in April. The training in Kubulau was officially closed by Joji, who reminded us that we are inter-dependent with the environment: we depend on our resources and our resources depend on us.

Communities learn about sustainable land management

After a request from the Kubulau Resource Management Committee to be trained on the methods of building community nurseries and on Sustainable Land Management (SLM) practices, the fifth module of Community Educators Network (CEN) Training was completed last week. Participants from each of the 10 villages of Kubulau attended the 2-day workshop in Namalata Village, Kubulau District. The workshop facilitated by WCS Fiji and the Coral Reef Alliance with collaboration from the Forestry Department and the Department of Agriculture’s Land Use Planning Section.

The first part of this training focused on watershed conservation, coastal and watershed restoration and the the theoretical and practical techniques of building a community nursery. This entailed a field visit to the Naravuka Village nursery in Seaqaqa for the participants to witness first-hand how a simple community nursery is constructed and the benefits and challenges of having a community nursery.

This project was kindly supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Land Use Planning Section of the Department of Agriculture explained Sustainable Land Management (SLM) practices to the participants, followed by field trips to Montfort Technical Institute to observe their integrated farming system, and to the Vuniyasawa Village’s vetiver grass project to view how soil erosion on hill slopes could be managed by planting vetiver grass.

This CEN Training was very informative and thoroughly enjoyed by the participants, particularly the field visits, which provided them the practical knowledge on how to make the theories learnt become a reality.

 

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.

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.