Namena Marine Reserve, the mecca of Fiji diving experience.
The Namena Marine Reserve MPA, part of the Bua Province encompasses both Namena Island and the surrounding horseshoe-shaped barrier reef. The Namena Barrier Reef is home to thousands of fish and invertebrate species, and hundreds of species of colorful corals and marine plants. Endangered sea turtles nest on the beaches of Namena Island, and more than a thousand sea birds roost atop the island’s trees. A total of 12 species of whale spend at least part of the year in Fiji’s waters.
Villagers of the Kubulau District on Vanua Levu own the traditional fishing rights (qoliqoli) of the Namena barrier reef, on which they depend for their livelihood.
In the 1980’s and 1990’s, an increase in commercial fishing posed a serious threat to Namena’s reefs. The chiefs of Kubulau responded in 1997 by placing a total ban on fishing through the creation of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) – THE NAMENA MARINE RESERVE.
- The Namena Marine Reserve is home to more than 1,000 species of invertebrates, 400 known corals, 445 documented marine plants and over 1,100 fish species.
- Namena is a migratory pathway for cetaceans; you may encounter species such as bottlenose and spinner dolphins, or pilot, minke, sperm, and humpback whales.
- Four of the world’s seven sea turtle species can be found in Fiji, and both green and hawksbill sea turtles regularly nest on Namena’s beaches.
- Namena Island is a primary seabird nesting site, with approximately 600 pairs of protected red- footed booby birds.
- There are 3 different types of sea snake and numerous land snakes on the islands.
SOME OF THE MARINE LIFE YOU MAY ENCOUNTER
Blue Ribbon Eel Rhinomuraena quaesita
This long colorful eel is known throughout the Indo-Pacific as a surprise hunter. The only known moray species to be a protandrous hermaphrodite, it is born as a male but changes into a female if necessary.
Barracuda Sphyraena sp.
Known for its sharp teeth and long shape, the barracuda has incorrectly gained a reputation for danger. Attacks on humans are very rare and these species prefer other food sources (whom they track at 40-50 km per hour!).
A variety of squid and other cephalopods are native to Fiji and may be encountered if an individual reveals itself from camouflage.
Tiger Sharks Galeoserdo cuvier
This predatory shark hunts alone and usually at night. Its main diet consists of fish, seals, squid, sharks, and turtles.
Hawksbill Sea Turtle Eretmochelys imbricata
The hawksbill turtle resides in tropical regions of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. While still young, the turtles are unable to dive deep and reside mainly in floating sea plants.
The Reserve : Established in 1997, Namena is the largest no-take reserve in Fiji. Its 60 km2 encompass a horseshoe-shaped barrier reef and a small island called Namenalala just south of Vanua Levu, in Kubulau District. The reserve’s beautiful high-biodiversity reef boasts an incredible array of corals and invertebrates, and over 1,000 fish species. Its sheltered waters also provide refuge to migratory seasonal visitors, including spinner (Stenella longirostris) and bottlenose (Tursiops truncatus) dolphins, and false killer (Pseudorca crassidens), pilot (Globicephala macrorhynchus), sperm (Physeter macrocephalus) and minke (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) whales. The Reserve’s benefits do not stop below the waves; Namenalala Island is an important seabird nesting area, protecting over 600 pairs of red-footed boobies, and is a nesting ground for the critically endangered hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) sea turtle.
The People : In Fiji, traditional fishing grounds are known as qoliqoli, and are managed by local communities. The traditional resource owners of the Namena Lagoon are the communities of the Kubulau District, who established a committee in the 1990s to oversee fishing in their qoliqoli. The committee first banned fishing entirely in 1997, worried that unauthorized gear was harming the reef. While the ban began as a temporary measure, the Namena Reserve Dive Tag was introduced in 2004 as an alternative to re-opening the Namena Marine Reserve to commercial fishing. The voluntary dive tag, which can be purchased by anyone who swims or dives in the marine reserve incentivizes local communities to help keep the reef as pristine, beautiful and diverse as possible. Funds raised from this tag go to student scholarships and training for local fish wardens who enforce the rules of the reserve. The Namena Marine Reserve is now managed jointly by the Kubulau Resource Management Committee in partnership with dive operators.
More information on FIJI
Souce: namena.org, fijitravel, fiji.wcs.org
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