Friday, February 25, 2011

Reefs at Risk - Fiji?

Click for detail.

It sure aint looking good!
I was alerted by this article stating that 75% of Coral Reefs are at risk and went rummaging for more detailed info about the situation in Fiji.

Turns out that this country is particularly vulnerable.
According to the report, it fatally combines High to Very High Threat Exposure (see picture on top) with High to Very High Reef Dependence with Low to Medium Adaptive Capacity (see below).
Click for detail: Fiji is the cluster of larger islands north of New Zealand.

And what about Shark Reef?
Pretty grim if you ask me! Since the reef is situated within a highly vulnerable coastal belt where the usual global threats like Climate Change and Acidification are compounded by high population pressure, predictions are dire.


Not nice!
Solutions? I haven't got the slightest clue!
Old timers tell me that Shark Reef has always been pretty barren, and this is why the villages were more than happy to agree to its protection and to exchange their fishing rights for monetary compensation. So far, their gamble has more than paid off as on top of jobs and regular income for the villages at the tune of over FJD 40,000 per year, the fish population has miraculously recovered, with many fish spilling over to other reefs were the local fishermen are welcome to harvest them.

The corals however have never quite managed to recover.
Whilst 20% of Shark Reef is heavily frequented by our clients, the remainder is not at all. Especially the fragile shallow coral gardens are very much off limits - and yet , especially for the Acropora, it has been a long and frustrating cycle of growth and demise, the latter owing to several explosions of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish and the occasional cyclone. Although those would appear to be "natural" causes, people in the know tell me that in Fiji, the Starfish invasions appear to be correlated to ENSO events - and these in turn are likely to be (oh, yes, of course it's complicated!) accelerated and exacerbated by anthropogenic Climate Change. With that in mind, the future of Shark Reef does rather look grim indeed, with totally unknown consequences for its Shark population.

But having said this: we'll continue trying never the less!
All I can say is so far so good, as we're seeing ever more Sharks and continue to identify ever more Fishes - with some likely excellent news to be published soon, so keep watching this space! And when it comes to the big picture, Mangroves for Fiji remains our very own contribution to Climate Change mitigation, both locally where there is now a huge belt of restored Mangroves lining the shores of our partner village Galoa and neighboring Culanuku; and Fiji-wide, where a veritable explosion of sites will enable us to become completely carbon neutral very, very soon indeed - again, keep watching this space!

And on this happy note (is it?): have a good weekend everybody!

PS should you be intrigued by the Google Earth pictures: download the KML files here (scroll to bottom of page) and have a look for yourself - very interesting and alas, equally disheartening!

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