24 Dec 2007

WWF South Pacific | Villagers take lead in financing their I qoloqoli in Macuata, Fiji

- By Ashwini Prabha
Fishermen from Kia Island, Fiji, with their catch. Kia has one of the 9 Marine Protected Areas (tabu) areas. © WWF Fiji.

The people of the qoliqoli (fishing grounds) of the vanua Nabekavu, Dreketi, Macuata, Sasa and Mali have, in the past 2 years, implemented set actions for the use of their I qoliqoli.

They have successfully set aside 9 areas, totaling to 117 kms2 within the I qoliqoli as tabus(protected areas), for the purpose of restocking the I qoliqoli. Already, the people of the I qoliqoli are talking about larger fishes caught near shore as in the past and different types that had not been seen in the recent years have begun to come back.

“This week we went out fishing everyday and came back with a full catch compared to few years ago when we would go out one day and have a good catch and the next three to four days we would hardly catch anything. These changes have also attracted increasing illegal fishers into the I qoliqoli and into the 'tabu' (protected areas) areas.”

- Emosi Baya, one of the I qoliqoli committee members from Nakawaga, Mali Island.

“These changes have also increasingly attracted illegal fishers into the I qoliqoli and into the tabu areas,” said Baya.

Currently WWF Fiji and partners are working with the Macuata communities by assisting in the development and implementation of resource management plan, educating and training of community members to undertake activities outlined in their management plans, training fish wardens and building community capacity (through household financial literacy training, community messaging, community biological and socio-economic surveyors etc).

With WWFs support to come to an end in three years, there is a commitment by WWF to assist the qoliqoli committee to secure funding with which the qoliqoli communities will continue to manage their I qoliqoli’s.

Long term self financing of Marine Protected Areas

A 12 month Fund Raising Plan (May 2007 to June 2008), with 4 activities, targeting FJD100,000, has been developed to generate funding for the management of the qoliqoli, spearheaded by the Qoliqoli Committee of the Vanua Nabekavu, Tikina Dreketi, Macuata, Sasa & Mali.

“A review of the 2004 management plan showed that the Qoliqoli committee lacked dedicated funds or a plan to seek funds for the implementation of this plan which includes the actions by fish wardens in stemming illegal fishing.”

- Sanivalati Navuku, Project officers, WWF Fiji Programme

The first fundraising event is the upcoming Great Sea Reefs (GSR) Sevens Rugby Tournament, in November (9th to 10th) at the Subrail Park, in Labasa. The tournament targets to raise $15,000.00.

Ten top national teams will be invited to participate, with part of their travel and accommodation costs supported by the Qoliqoli Committee through sponsorship.

A total of 56 teams are expected to participate, including boys teams of 17, 16, 15, 12, 9. The inclusion of the boys team is expected to pull in parents and families to travel to the games venue in Labasa.

Mr. Baya who is involved in the fundraiser said,

“the GSR sevens is not just to raise money but will help qoliqoli owners to come together to work towards the protection of their natural resources. Working to manage our qoliqoli has brought many of us together, from the inland villages and coastal villages for the first time. Some of us are visiting some qoliqoli villages for the first time as well.”

“When WWF started this project (MPA) in 2004, I was the only representative from the island of Mali. Today the number of representatives from Mali and other villagers has increased. These efforts are helping re-establish our traditional links.” he said.

Other fundraising activities by the Qoliqoli committee includes- Honorary Qoliqoli Owners by Invitation, targeting $9,000.00, Connecting qoliqoli members living outside of Fiji (3), targeting $10,000.00 and Village based fund raising & dinner by invitation, targeting $42,000.00.

“Effort is being made to increase the communities’ involvement and participation in the management of their resources. The communities need to take ownership in protecting their natural resources starting with MPA projects.”

- Sanivalati Navuku, Project officer, WWF Fiji.

Fiji’s precious marine ecosystem is under attack from over fishing, unsustainable and destructive harvesting of live coral and exotic fish for aquariums, and increasing levels of pollution. Climate change is also playing its part in the degradation of the marine environment as warmer sea water.

In November 2005, seven chiefs of the province of Macuata launched the first of the country’s networks of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on the Great Sea Reef, the third largest barrier reef in the world. This came about as a result of the Great Sea Reef survey, a first in the area, conducted in 2004 with the support of WWF and partners, which highlighted its unique biodiversity.

WWF has witnessed the benefits of MPAs to biodiversity and marine resources and the people who rely on them around the world. Hence it is supporting the Government and the people of Fiji in the development and implementation of its commitment to have 30%of the country’s EEZ under MPAs by 2020. Together with FLMMA and other key organisations, WWF is facilitating policy dialogue, scientific research, community capacity building and financing.

Source: WWF Fiji

12 Dec 2007

DAN Europe safety and prevention campaign


The DAN Europe safety and prevention campaign aims at increasing safety awareness and cautious behavior by boat operators and drivers.

The Problem
Whoever dives with a certain frequency knows only to well the danger of surfacing due to heavy boating, which quite often with high speeds, criss-crosses over into scuba diving areas, despite the presence of diving warning buoys or dive support boats equipped with dive warning flags.
Vain are the screams and gestures in warning those on dive boats from those monitoring their companions in the water, as often the noise of arriving boats cover up the cry of warning or simply because the boat pilot isn’t paying any attention. . . .
The snorkeler, who contrary to scuba divers, who effect repeated dives, are more prone to such accidents, since they are more often at the surface.
Thus, every year, unfortunately, there are recorded cases of divers run over by boats in transit and even more cases of near misses.

The Regulations
All this despite legislation regulating each Nation, with precise standards concerning dive warning buoys and the required minimum distance to be kept of such warning signs.
The diving community is perfectly aware of these norms of which the large majority of divers scrupulously apply.

The Consequences
When a motor boat, even of small dimension, hits a diver, the injuries caused by the boat and propeller are devastating and often result in death.

What can be done
The only way to reduce the number of these tragic deaths is through an awareness campaign and the advertising of the minimum distance standards to be kept, in such a way the majority number of boat operators are aware of the fact that the diver buoy and/or diagonally white striped red flag means a diver is in the water and therefore warned to avoid hitting them with the boat or worse yet, with the propeller, and is required to transit at a distance.

The DAN Europe Safety Campaign
DAN Europe (Divers Alert Network) has for years promoted a campaign in offering free of charge and for the asking, dive warning stickers to attach at dive centers boards, resorts, the entrances of piers of tourist ports, boat rental areas, or where ever they may be most visible by the majority of people who operate boats in any tourist area where divers may be present.
The campaign is based on the wide and capillary distribution of a simple message of immediate visual warning effect which conveys at first sight, vital information on the prevention of accidents and the observing norms set in place.

How to participate?
The invitation we are extending to all divers and those who love the sea, is that of distributing this message on safety as much as possible and collaborating with us by indicating newspapers, magazines, organizations, web-sites, TV shows who could become involved in this safety prevention campaign of boat propeller accidents.

10 Dec 2007

Mares Unveils HOT New Dive Watch

MARES Diving introduces Force Dive Watch: Just in time for the holidays.

NORWALK, CT (November 12, 2007) at the recent DEMA show, Mares introduced its new dive watch: Force. The Force will be produced in limited quantities and available just in time for the holidays.

An extensive feature list makes this both a stylish and quality timepiece; exclusively Mares.

The Force Dive Watch features:

  • Solid Marine –grade 316L stainless steel construction
  • Screw down crown and crown guards
  • Superluminov dial markings and hands
  • Stainless steel screwbar band to case interface
  • Triple secure stainless steel clasp
  • Solid forged type 316L stainless steel case back
  • Unidirectional rotating bezel for safe, accurate bottom times
  • Japanese quartz movement accurate to ±15 secs. per month
  • 200M/660Ft. depth rating for worry-free underwater performance
  • 2-year Unconditional warranty

The Mares Force dive watch, which was specially created by the Reactor Watch group, has a suggested retail of $350.00 and will be available at MARES dealers soon.

For additional information on this product and the complete line of Mares products for 2007 contact your MARES District Sales Manager, Customer Service or go to www.mares.com for your nearest Authorized MARES Dealer.

HEAD USA is part of the HEAD NV Group, which is based in the Netherlands and listed on the New York and Vienna Stock exchanges. The HEAD NV Group is a worldwide sporting goods company that manufactures and markets products under the HEAD brand (racquet and winter sports), Penn (world’s #1 tennis ball and racquet ball brand), and Tyrolia (wintersports bindings), in addition to the three diving brands (Mares, Dacor and Sporasub). HEAD NV’s Chairman is Johan Eliasch. The telephone number for the Diving Division is 203 855 0631; fax 203 866 9573; website www.mares.com. For HEAD USA information, log onto www.head.com

4 Dec 2007

Book on the status of coral reefs in the Pacific launched at USP

Source: http://www.usp.ac.fj/news/story.php?id=200

IMR Director Dr Ken Mackay
at the launch of the book
The health of coral reefs in the Southwest Pacific is the subject of a new book which was launched at the University of the South Pacific this week.
Status of Coral Reefs in the SouthWest Pacific: 2004, which has been edited by Reuben Sulu, brings together reports from Fiji, Nauru, New Caledonia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, prepared under the auspices of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN). It was published by the Institute of Pacific Studies Publications at USP in collaboration with the University's Institute of Marine Resources. 

The book was launched by IMR director Dr Ken MacKay who pointed out that book carried important information on coral reefs in this part of the world.
"The book is based on a 2004 coral reef monitoring report results of which were condensed into a global report which came out two years ago, said Dr MacKay.
He pointed out that coral reefs played an essential role in maintaining strong and healthy ecosystems, and which also contribute to local communities by way of providing food supplies, protecting coastlines and generating tourism opportunities. 

The book reports on the status of coral reefs of the region and discusses threats to the reefs, before offering suggestions and recommendations for their ongoing management. The major issues in the region were commercial exploitation of marine resources, cyclone damage and coral bleaching. In face of these threats, survey results revealed that overall coral cover has increased since the major bleaching events (2000, 2002) to almost pre-bleaching levels and recognition of commercial exploitation and other anthropogenic impacts has led to awareness programs and establishment of small Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) throughout each island country. A similar report is currently being prepared and results of the 2007 surveys will be published in 2008. 

Status of Coral Reefs in the Southwest Pacific: 2004, was financially supported by the Canada-South Pacific Ocean Development Programme, with further editing funded by the Coral Reef Initiatives for the Pacific (CRISP). It is available at IPS Publications, the Institute of Marine Resources and the USP Book Centre (all at the University of the South Pacific's Laucala Campus) or online at www.ipsbooks.ac.fj (ISBN: 9789820203860, 274pp, illus. col. RRP $34).