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Village elders passing down traditional knowledge to its youth, particularly as it relates to the importance of the coral reefs

In Galoa Village, a fishing community in Serua Province, located on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu, villagers have relied on the land and sea for sustenance as well as income for many generations. The village’s formula for success is simple: healthy coral reefs mean healthy fish, and healthy fish mean healthy people.

The seas surrounding the village support Ulavi (Parrotfish), Saqa (Giant Trevally), Kacika (Yellowlip Emperor) and Kabatia (Humphead Wrasse); fish stocks have remained abundant due to a healthy coral reef system, which the villagers treat as a sacred patrimony.

Fiji is considered a ‘Large Ocean State’ because of the vastness of its territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Shark Reef Marine Reserve (SRMR) spanning over 1.83 square kilometres of the Serua coastline. While the designation of Marine Protected Areas created a ‘no take’ zone, locally known as ‘tabu’, that limited the traditional fishing areas available for Galoa villagers, they understood that the MPA allowed the coral reef system to thrive, resulting in abundant fish stocks beyond the MPA.

Home to the 26th largest sovereign ocean space in the world, 3.52 percent of the global coral reef population, and over 65,000 hectares of mangroves and myriad unique marine species.

Mangroves for Fiji, helped restore mangroves, whilst the second - My Fiji Shark - is a shark adoption programme collecting funds for shark conservation initiatives in conjunction with the promotion of sustainable coastal fisheries. Villagers have already noticed a rise in the number of sharks – an important barometer for reef and MPA health.

For Berenado Vunibobo, the village headman, fishing is an intrinsic part of Galoa.
As he puts it, “Generations have come and gone, and the coral reef system has sustained them all.”
This is partly owing to the fact that, while fishing is a near daily exercise, the villagers never take more than what they need. Harvesting coral is also banned in the village, given its critical importance to Galoa’s marine ecosystem.

Furthermore, the village’s youth are part of an unbroken chain of seafarers, with village elders passing down traditional knowledge to its youth, particularly as it relates to the importance of the coral reefs. Building reef resilience protects a sustainable source of food and livelihoods for the Fijian people and a vibrant hub of biodiversity for the world.

-text by: Vineil Narayan, Andrea Egan, Vatimosi Delailovu, Sheldon Chanel, Hee Sung Kim, Nicole

Story Information:

Country: Fiji

Topic: Oceans

Photo or video credit: Irene Lily, Andrea Egan, Tom Vierus

Text Credit: Andrea Egan

Date : 14 February 2022

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