The Fiji Islands archipelago includes 320 islands and more than 500 islets and cays with a land area of 18, 376km2, and a coastline of more than 1,130 km. The country is divided into four divisions, which are further divided into 14 provinces. Fiji has extended sovereignty of over 130,450 km2 of archipelagic waters and 45,000 km2 of territorial waters. Fiji has sovereign rights over the resources in its EEZ, an area beyond archipelagic baselines totalling 1.29 million km2 (more than 60 times the land territory). It is estimated that around 6,704 km2 are covered by fringing and barrier reefs, while mangroves cover an area of 385 km2. The Great Sea Reef & Astrolabe Reef are the 3rd and 4th largest barrier reef in the world. Threatened or endangered species in Fiji include two mammal species, 17 bird species, 49 fish species and 281 plants. Many marine and coastal resources are over-exploited causing major environmental challenges. Historically, mangroves, as one example, have been cleared for human development for aquaculture or urban development, practices that have caused shoreline erosion over time.
Marine and coastal resources influence cultural aspects of Fijian life and traditions for hundered of years. They are major suppliers of food and are a source of income. Valuation studies of ecosystem services are increasingly called on to facilitate the incorporation of environmental values into the formulation of government policy for more efficient, equitable and ecologically sustainable marine and coastal management.
In 2015 the MACBIO Project undertook Marine Ecosystem Service Valuations with all five partner countries including Fiji. Highlights include:
• The net value of subsistence seafood to Fiji households is estimated at FJ$ 59 M (US$ 29.5 M) per year
• Small-Scale Commercial Fishing estimates range from FJ$ 14.6 to FJ $53.7 million (US$ 7.3 – 26.9 M) per year
• Sea Cucumber gross value of exports was FJ$ 16.5 M in 2005 but only FJ$ 5.5 M in 2009
• Offshore Tuna Fishing net value in 2013 was FJ$ 20.1 M
• Sand and Aggregate Mining was estimated FJ$ 1.5 M per year
• Deep-sea mining is providing benefits to Fiji government from various fees at about FJ$1.5 M (US$ 776,480) per year
• Marine and Coastal Tourism had a gross value in 2013 of FJ$ 1.15 Billion
• Carbon sequestration benefits worth about FJ$ 7 M each year (US$ 14.8 M)
By 2020 the Fiji Government, is committed to establishing an EEZ-wide network of Marine Managed and Protected Areas which represent 30% of the marine environment. In 2015, MACBIO was formally requested to support this program by helping to define a marine spatial planning work program, marine protected area objectives and typology, legal analysis, bioregions and design criteria to implement the 30% Marine Managed and Protected Areas.
Vision: A comprehensive, ecologically representative networks of Marine Managed and Protected Areas that restores and sustains the health, productivity, resilience, biological diversity and ecosystem services of coastal and marine systems, and promotes the quality of life for our communities who depend on them.
Over the coming years the MACBIO project will continue to provide technical assistance to the Fiji Government to help them achieve this important objective.
In Fiji MACBIO supports marine and coastal biodiversity management on three sites. The integration site Kadavu, as well as the learning sites Navakavu and Macuata Province, the later in cooperation with the Fiji Government and WWF. These three sites cover different levels from the local level in Navakavu to a provincial level in Kadavu and Macuata.