Assessing the Namena Marine Reserve Off Fiji’s Vanua Levu
By Sangeeta Mangubhai
[This is the fifth in a series of blogs by WCS-Fiji Director Sangeeta Mangubhai assessing the damage to coral reefs caused by Cyclone Winston, a Category 5 storm that hit Fiji on February 20]
Over the last two days we have been diving in the Namena Marine Reserve. There was much debate before we got here whether Nai’a Cruises should venture up to the reserve, as there were reports of large scale damage to the land, coastal villages, and adjacent coral reefs. The marine reserve in particular juts out like a finger from the main island of Vanua Levu and the eye of the storm passed over it.
Namena is special because it is the largest no-take marine reserve in Fiji. Nai’a Cruises has been diving these reefs for decades, promoting its conservation alongside WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) and the Coral Reef Alliance. Thousands of divers from all over the world have visited these iconic reefs. Countless photos have captured the reserve’s marine life and numerous inspirational articles have appeared in dive magazines describing Namena’s rich and diverse fish, invertebrate, and coral communities.
Namena is part of the Kubulau District, where WCS has worked for more than a decade supporting local communities on natural resource management. The communities have a plan that outlines how they manage their resources from the mountains all the way down to the reefs. The people of Kubulau have inspired other districts in Bua province to develop their own district ‘ridge to reef’ management plans.