VILLAGERS who live in the Natewa and Tunuloa peninsula in Cakaudrove have seen a vast change in their fishing ground — an increase in seafood production, particularly fish.
The positive change is a result of the taboo introduced in 2009 where villagers and traditional leaders agreed to preserve the rainforest in their area.
Known as Naqaravutu Eco-Tourism, villagers agreed in partnership with the Birdlife International Fiji Program to stop all deforestation practices in the area for the next 10 years.
Project co-ordinator Petero Qaloibau said the observation of the taboo over the past three years had prevented the flow of siltation to the qoliqoli.
"I am one of the villagers who was born and bred in Natewa and I must say that we have seen a big difference to our qoliqoli prior to the taboo," Mr Qaloibau said.
"There are a lot of fish and the sizes are bigger as well.
"The seafood and sea slugs that we once thought were almost extinct are in abundant supply now and we are grateful to the other villagers and traditional leaders for their support," he said.
He said villagers, at one stage, had to go out further to sea to fish for their meals.
"That has now changed because we are preserving our forests and we have seen a big difference with our qoliqoli having so much fish and seafood in it."
Mr Qaloibau said even the villagers were not allowed to cut down trees from the forest.