On Friday 14th of September, Ms Sandeep K. Singh, Director of the Department of Environment from the Ministry of Waterways and Environment, launched a report describing Fiji’s Special, Unique Marine Areas (SUMA).
Fiji is committed to 30% Marine Protected Areas for its ocean. Fiji is launching a report that forms an important building block for delivering on this commitment.
Fiji has an amazing marine environment and, of course, all of it matters. But, according to available biological and ecological data and expertise, there are 78 areas inshore and 20 areas offshore that are just a bit more special and/or unique.
About 50 experts and over 31 datasets as well as four previous reports on priority marine areas in Fiji as well as data arising from recent surveys in Lau provided input to the work. The report has benefitted, also, from in-country expert review.
For each special, unique marine area, their important biophysical features have been described, as have their boundaries and the sources of information have been carefully assessed and documented.
These special, unique marine areas may be revised and refined as more information comes on board. In the meantime, they can be used in permitting decisions, Environmental Impact Assessments, deciding on licensing conditions as well as in decisions about where to put Fiji’s 30% Marine Protected Areas.
Permanent Secretary for Waterways and Environment, Mr Joshua Wycliffe said, “To achieve more sustainable management of our marine environment and to enable the government to make good decisions about where to put our 30% Marine Protected Areas, we need reports like this.”
Mr Wycliffe noted that, “These special, unique marine areas will also help Fiji to comply with international commitments such as the need for a national network of Marine Protected Areas by 2020 under the Convention on Biological Diversity.”
“98% of our country is sea, and so we are initiating national planning for our ocean. We are an ocean nation. Our future lies in our marine resources. So a national network of Marine Protected Areas that will help ensure the sustainable use of our ocean is imperative.” said Mr Wycliffe.
Congratulations to the members of the Marine Working Group of the Protected Area Committee, that reports to Fiji’s National Environment Council, who led this work. Thanks also to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the MACBIO project for their ongoing support. The MACBIO project is funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of BMU and being implemented by GIZ in partnership with SPREP and with technical support of IUCN’s Oceania Regional Office.