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Ecosystem management: Evaluating the impact of Marine Protected Areas on local communities in Kia, Fiji. A case study

Stalio, Monica (2016) Ecosystem management: Evaluating the impact of Marine Protected Areas on local communities in Kia, Fiji. A case study. Master of Science by Research (MScRes) thesis, University of Kent. (KAR id:54206)

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More than one billion people, mostly from developing countries, rely on fish as their primary source of income and protein. With fishing pressure increasing rapidly, fish stocks across the world are fast declining. The consequences are already visible; nearly two-thirds of the global fish stocks have been overexploited, leaving disruption to food webs and marine ecosystems, and declining income for fishermen dependent on fisheries for their livelihoods. With predictions of further decline in fish stocks in the near future, it is crucial to reinforce marine environment protection. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been recognized as an effective management tool to protect fish populations, showing benefits beyond areas delimited by the MPA, thus adding further valuable support to local fisheries. The presence of MPAs is particularly important in areas with coral reef systems. With more than 30% of the world’s coral reefs negatively affected by ocean acidification, combined with the broader effect of global climate change and overfishing, resulting predictions indicate that 60% of the world’s reefs will be lost by 2030. MPAs are regarded as a useful tool in mitigating these impacts. With the prominent role MPAs play in marine conservation, monitoring and evaluating their status is necessary to ensure that marine management measures are effective and efficient.

This research explores the role of an MPA established in the vicinity of Kia Island, a remote island off the North coast of Vanua Levu, Fiji, and enveloped by the world’s third longest continuous barrier reef system. Semi- structured interviews and focus groups were conducted in the 3 villages of Daku, Ligau, and Yaro, in order to investigate stakeholders’ perceptions on ecological, financial, and social changes occurring after the establishment of the MPA.

Participants observed that since its establishment, the marine environment appears to be healthier inside and outside the MPA. Fish species, previously absent from the area have been observed, fish populations appear more abundant, and fish size may also have increased. Stakeholders also reported that they believe corals are recovering, and sea grass is now more prosperous.

The improved health of the ecosystem means that fish catches are more abundant, and fishermen’s income has consequently increased. The access to better finances has driven women to undertake fishing on a regular basis, empowering them to become breadwinners alongside their family’s men. The role of women is slowly changing both within their family structure and at community level. However, in a society like the Fijian’s, where patriarchy has strong roots, it is currently too early to assess what the consequences of women’s new role may be within the traditional society.

Recommendations to further assess the impact of the MPA include an assessment of income versus expenditure, landing site surveys, and ecological sampling to monitor change occurring inside and outside the MPA. Combined, these assessments will support efficient planning of future resource management. Social research on the change in women’s role and consequences on the family and wider community should also be developed.

Item Type: Thesis (Master of Science by Research (MScRes))
Thesis advisor: Tzanopoulos, Joseph
Uncontrolled keywords: Protected Area, fishery, ecosystem, sustainability, local communities, Fiji
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2016 16:00 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2022 03:21 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Stalio, Monica.

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