A DISTRICT that took measures to salvage its threatened marine ecosystems is ecstatic after recently sighting whales, hammerhead sharks, schools of fish including tuna and turtle.
Wildlife Conservation Society South Pacific Program spokesman Betani Salusalu said for the last 15 years Kubulau district in Bua Province invested in its marine resources by establishing a marine protected area around Namenalala Island.
He said the district in the last two years again invested in a more detailed network of marine reserves believed to be the first of its design and the largest marine network ever established in Fiji.
"Over the years the district of Kubulau has been experiencing depletion to its marine resources because it is vulnerable to activities such as long line fishing, poachers, illegal fishermen and unsustainable and destructive fishing methods widely practised throughout our waters.
"Today after one year of designing and establishing a marine reserve network, the people of Kubulau are now experiencing the changes," he said.
Mr Salusalu said the villagers are starting to reap the rewards now with the sighting of marine life on the shorelines of villages in the district.
He said the project was made possible following a recommendation made by the Fijian Affairs Board through the Bua Provincial Council to the Wildlife Conservation Society.
He said the project was also supported by the Fisheries Department to help the people of Kubulau district develop, maintain and carry out sustainable management of their marine resources for their future generation.
"The district of Kubulau is taking the lead in terms of managing its marine resources, in putting together a Kubulau Management Plan administered by a management committee selected by the communities. We believe that having a committee in place and gazette notice of the Namena Marine Protected Areas should pave the future for the people pf Kubulau and be a role model to other traditional Qoliqoli owners," he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Salusalu said the communities of Kubulau were working with the Wildlife Society and other stakeholders to establish alternative livelihoods, community developments and education programs.
He said because of the Namena Marine Reserve, scholarships for Kubulau children had been set up. Kubulau district includes the villages of Kiobo, Namalata, Raviravi, Navatu, Waisa, Nasaivua, Natokalau, Nakorovou, Nadivakarua and Kilaka.