WHILE communities have done commendable work in implementing marine protected areas (MPAs) in their respective coastal zones, they must remember that MPAs are a tool — not a complete solution.
Speaking to this newspaper last week following a public lecture on inshore fisheries management, marine scientist Dr Hugh Govan said coastal communities around the country should strive to apply more effective approaches, specific to their individual communal needs.
"One can't downplay the massive progress that has been made by Fiji in particular in terms of a number of — more than 200 — coastal villages and impact on the qoliqoli (fishing ground) that are improving their resource management.
"There's too much pressure from the Western world to implement MPAs as opposed to better fisheries management.
"MPAs are a tool — like a hammer, it's great for nails but it's no good for screws and if the problem requires more tools than just a hammer then you're in trouble, because there's so much attention being placed on that," he said.
He said however, that it was good to see that communities were becoming a lot more dependent on their own conservation approaches specific to their areas.
"There are communities that once they are a bit more aware of what affects their fisheries stocks, choose things like banning gill nets, banning night diving, only catching larger fish and closing off areas to allow fish to breed.
"And that's what we'd like to see — communities choosing the tools that work best for them that will have most effect in terms of keeping their food secure."