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Climate Change in Fiji: Evidence of Coral Bleaching in Namuana, Kadavu, and other Surrounding Areas

By Seruwaia Masa 

Below is a condensed version of Seruwaia’s report, for the full version in .pdf format click here.

Introduction

Fiji contains of approximately 320 islands. There are four major islands in the group. The largest, Viti Levu contains the highest proportion of the population, followed by Vanua Levu, Taveuni, and Kadavu (Ryan 2000).  Island dwellers rely and depend heavily on the marine resources as a source of food as well as the source of income from tourism and fishing.  There have been concerns, recently about coral bleaching, decline in catches, destruction of habitats such as coral reefs, sea weeds, mangroves and coastal vegetations.This is mainly due to pollution, increasing population, overfishing, poaching, the use of destructive fishing methods, and coastal developments, particularly building of tourist backpackers’ resorts on islands.

Objectives

The aims and objectives of this research are to assess how coral bleaching affects the livelihoods of the villages. In addition, how is climate change affecting the lives of the villages and what are they doing to help control climate change.

Study Area

Kadavu, with an area of 411 square miles (158.6 square miles), is the fourth largest island in Fiji, and the largest of the Kadavu group, a volcanic archipelago, consisting of Kadavu, Galoa, Ono, and a number of smaller islands in the Great Archipelago Reef. The island is 93 kilometers long, with a width varying from 365 meters to 13 kilometers.


View Seruwaia's Map in a larger map

Methodology

The equipments used in this research were:

  • Underwater camera
  • Waterproof GPS receiver

Community Questionnaire Survey

  • Households were interviewed.  Households were asked on their knowledge about coral bleaching of their own resources and climate change.

Results

For the past 30 to 40 years, coral reefs in Namuana have changed tremendously. It has quickly and the changes were quiet big enough to be noticed.  Corals were starting to get bleached and are beginning to die away slowly due to various reasons.  Catches from the sea are beginning to deteriorate slowly. Until 10 years ago when awareness program were raised by the department of Fisheries and Environment and the villages started to be cautious on how they used the environment.

Fig 1. Stark white coras and a bit brownish
Fig 2. Corals that are brown in colour
Fig 3. "Bleached" corals
Fig 4. "Bleached" corals from a distance
Fig 5. Corals with polyps
Fig 6. Corals that are healthy
Fig 7. Corals showing tips of coral
Fig 8. Bleached corals

Uses of Coral

Coral is used for many purposes.  In the village I studied coral is used by villagers for hair dyes and footpaths.

Uses

Explanation

 

1. Chlorination chamber

Corals are used as chlorination chamber for septic tanks

2. White wash

Cement factories uses corals for white wash

3. Cements

Cement factories buy corals to make cements from it.

4. Hair dyes

Villagers use corals to dye their hair. Corals are crushed in small pieces, mixed with water, sands and hair colors to use.

5. Footpaths

Corals are brought from the sea, crushed in pieces and spread around as footpaths. For e.g. in Nagigia island Resort in Kadavu uses corals as footpaths around the resort.

6. Decorations

Women use coral as house decorations.

 

Conclusion

After the research, a fisheries officer have agreed that one of their major survey to be done this year in Kadavu is to come up with some possible solutions in solving the problem of coral bleaching and climate changes, even though the people of Kadavu have been taught about coral bleaching during workshops.  Although coral bleaching is a major problem in Kadavu, some villagers are still not aware of its effects. The surprising findings of this paper are that the “oldies” are the ones who are aware of the changing status of the coral reefs compared to the “youngsters”. The marine resources are to be managed by the owners as it affects the very nature of their existence. It can be concluded that climate change is a major reason for climate change and other changes happening around us everyday.

 


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