Sunday, June 10, 2007

More protection for our Sharks!

Ever since having established the Shark Reef Marine Reserve in 2004, we have been striving to further expand the protected area. As the data provided from our satellite and radio tagging experiments tell us, the Bull sharks and Tiger sharks tend to roam a much larger territory in this region.

The southern coast of Viti Levu adjacent to Shark Reef comprises the Qoliqoli, or fishing grounds, of the Villages of Galoa, Wainyiabia and Deuba.

After more than one year of sometimes difficult negotiations, we have finally succeeded in signing an Agreement with the relevant Chiefs and Mataqali representatives of Deuba Village stipulating that any catching or otherwise harming of Sharks within the entire Qoliqoli of Deuba Village is henceforth banned.

Galoa and Wainyiabia Villages, our partners in the Shark Reef Marine Reserve, have since joined in by also declaring their own entire Qoliqoli to be banned for Shark fishing.

To compensate for any losses in income, Deuba Village will be entitled to a share of the Marine Park Levy collected on Shark Reef, for which the Swiss Shark Foundation is very kindly providing a minimum income guarantee.
To that effect, the Marine Park Levy on Shark Reef has been increased to $20.

In April 2007, the Fiji Department of Fisheries has sanctioned all relevant Agreements, making them legally binding and thus enforceable.

The protected area, which has been named the Fiji Shark Corridor, comprises approx. 30 miles of coastline and thus hugely expands on the original Shark Reef area. In fact, when you visit Shark Reef, the entire coast as far as you can see in either direction is now protected!

Our special thanks go to
  • the Villages of Galoa, Wainiyabia and Deuba for their kind assistance in making the above possible
  • Manasa Bulivou, our spokesperson, for his tireless Village diplomacy
  • Gary Adkison and Dr. Alexander Goldknecht, of the Swiss Shark Foundation, for their unwavering moral and financial support
  • Dr. Juerg Brunnschweiler, for collecting the relevant scientific data
  • Aisake Batibasaga, Principal Research Officer and Acting CEO, Fiji Department of Fisheries, for his assistance and guidance

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