By Vicki Nichols Goldstein, Colorado Ocean Coalition Founder
When Richard Akhtar from the Matava Eco Resort on Kundava Island in Fiji donated a week diving trip to the 2012 Making WAVES Gala, I never thought my husband, Bruce, a CU Professor, would be the winning bidder. This kick-started a collaborative research project with an eye towards learning about Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) by developing partnerships with conservationists and researchers in the South Pacific.
The LMMA Network has projects in eight countries in the South Pacific and operates in over 600 communities. An LMMA enables village communities to make their own decisions about which fishing methods and other activities can or cannot be carried out in their communal waters, and then designates a portion of their marine areas as no-take marine protected areas. It’s a way to enhance local knowledge and capacity to improve food security and protect the amazing biodiversity of coral reefs.
A large portion of the Fiji trip (after the diving) was devoted to attending the 12th Pacific Science Inter-Congress. We attended sessions where LMMA community organizers shared lessons learned about their community-based adaptive management work in Fiji, the Solomons, Torres Strait Australia, the Philippines, PNG, and Palau. Bruce also presented his findings about effective network coordination from project work he has conducted in the U.S. A conference highlight was the “Tok Story” evening where member country representatives shared stories about how they facilitate community capacity building and conservation.
Being a new inland community based marine conservation group, 1000 miles from the nearest ocean, inspires us to learn from the world as we explore solutions and innovative approaches to protect the ocean that truly supports us.
And, thank you Richard for your NEW 2013 Making WAVES contribution to a Diving Week at Matava. On September 21, at the Making WAVES Gala, you might be lucky enough to be the winning bidder. After being there, I can say this is one auction item to keep your eyes-on. It truly is a magical place.
By Vicki Nichols Goldstein, Founder, Colorado Ocean Coalition