Securing the Kubulau Qoliqoli
The Namena Marine Reserve, located between the principal islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, is part of the traditional fishing grounds, or “Qoliqoli,” of the Kubulau Community. This community had the foresight some years ago to better manage and conserve their natural marine resources. They sought to not only protect their fisheries from over-exploitation due to poaching and poor management, but also to develop the tourism sector as a means of providing sustainable livelihoods and benefits to the community.
INVESTMENT FOR THE FUTURE
The people of Kubulau had the wisdom to protect the beautiful reefs of Namena for future generations. They established a fee for those visiting the park to meet community and management needs. The fee is essential to the reserve’s success, covering management costs such as patrolling, fuel, and mooring maintenance. A portion of the fee also funds community development projects such as the Kubulau Education Fund, which provides the children of Kubulau with scholarships for tertiary education.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS TO DATE
Proceeds from the Dive Fee have enabled the Namena MPA to:
- Eliminate destructive commercial fishing for nearly a decade
- Install mooring buoys to reduce anchor damage
- Provide annual scholarships for school children from the Kubulau District
- Extend the MPA to incorporate an additional 11 protected areas in a district-wide network of MPAs
Members of the Kubulau Resource Management
With Namena marine recreation providers and the Kubulau Resource Management Committee (KRMC), the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) established an effective and transparent user fee system. Although a user fee system was in place for tourism operators to compensate villages when visiting the Namena MPA, it lacked transparency and did not realize sufficient revenue for local communities.
CHALLENGES STILL REMAIN
Poaching, due to a lack of enforcement, continues to be a problem for the MPA. Additional moorings that can accommodate larger vessels are needed to avoid anchor damage on the reef at desirable dive sites. With the Namena MPA management plan nearing completion, formal gazetting and governmental recognition is a priority. Near shore LMMAs require investigation for their potential as dive destinations. And the entire Kubulau Qoliqoli Conservation Corridor requires a dedicated MPA manager.
While community benefits have been realized from the user fee (130 scholarships provided to Kubulau children, three bus shelters constructed, and fish warden trainings launched), the need for community benefits currently exceeds the existing revenue from dive fees alone. A business plan is being developed for the Kubulau District as an initial step towards improved fiscal planning. Alternative livelihoods that are sustainable and successful need to be identified and developed to provide diversified revenue opportunities for the local communities in order to reduce the temptation to reopen the qoliqoli to potentially destructive commercial fishing.
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