Struggling to save Fiji’s marine wealth | Global Ideas | DW | 13.01.2015
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Global Ideas

Struggling to save Fiji’s marine wealth

The Pacific nation of Fiji is considered a paradise on earth. But in reality, the archipelago’s marine life is threatened. Researchers, politicians and residents need to join forces to save the rich underwater world.

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Project goals: Preserving the biological diversity of marine and coastal ecosystems, providing support to achieve national targets within the biodiversity convention and to protect at least 10 percent of the marine surface area by 2020

Size: the MACBIO project is operational in the Southwest Pacific - in Fiji as well as in Kiribati, Solomon, Tonga and Vanuatu

Investment: The International Climate Initiative (IKI) is funding the management of marine and coastal biodiversity in five Pacific island nations with a budget of 8.1 million Euros

Duration: 2013 to 2018

The third-largest barrier reef in the southern hemisphere, the Great Sea Reef, has traditionally enjoyed protection with fishermen in the north of the Fiji Islands dividing their fishing areas and declaring some as “Tambu Areas” - places where fishing is strictly off limits. Here, the seagrass meadows and fringe reefs were once home to the rare green sea turtle and the friendly East Pacific dolphin. But today these traditionally protected zones are largely disregarded. And, simply putting up a fence around the richly biodiverse area doesn’t work, according to Jan Steffen. The marine biologist from Germany’s international aid agency, GIZ, has a tough task ahead. By 2020, Fiji wants to protect 30 percent of its marine area. It’s an ambitious target and Steffen is meant to help implement it. The Great Sea Reef is meant to be part of the protected area. Jan Steffen is now looking for a new way to protect the Reef. His approach is to get all stakeholders, from fishermen to politicians, on board in order to protect the rich marine ecosystem in the long term.

A film by Carmen Meyer and Holger Ernst

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