Our volunteers and research staff have been very busy in Fiji, investigating the abundance of fish present both on reefs adjacent to local villages and on isolated areas of coastline. Since being instructed on how to dive, the volunteers have been plunging into the crystal clear waters famous for their diverse and colourful reefs. It’s not all fun and games though, as the team are currently investigating the pressure local fishing has put on these reef ecosystems. By establishing regular monitoring sites, we indeed hope to gain valuable data over the next few months.
Although fish abundance is an essential aspect to monitor when studying the impacts of local fishing practices, fish diversity is also an important indicator of the coral reef ecosystem health. With the help of local fishermen sharing their indigenous knowledge and the use of identification cards of the local species, our staff and volunteers have collected very valuable data. However, our first results paint a dull picture of this beautiful underwater paradise. Our fears were indeed confirmed when we analysed the level of abundance and diversity for the reef sites situated close to villages. The results show that fish abundance is significantly lower in sites close to villages in comparison to that of sites in more remote areas. In addition, there was also a slight drop in the species diversity on the reefs situated next to populated areas.
The team have also been assessing the success of ‘no take zones’ set up close to villages. Preliminary results show that these ‘no take zones’ have had a positive impact on the levels of fish abundance and diversity, closely matching that of the most remote sites. So if you want to experience an opportunity of a lifetime, gain valuable skills and help protect some of the best dive sites in the world, join our increasingly popular conservation project in Fiji!
Ed Cremin and Elise Belle
Read more about our Fiji Marine Conservation & Diving