Fiji Islands Marine Ecoregion

Crossroads of the Pacific

Unique ecology
The Fiji Islands Marine Ecoregion is considered the crossroads of the Pacific, by virtue of its geographical location. It is host to a unique ecological lattice threading and weaving together large expanses of coastal wetlands and mangroves; seagrass and algal beds, mudflats, lagoons; and a large diverse array of coral reefs.

Encompassed within this vibrant ecological framework are over 390 coral species in a complex coral system housing over 1200 varieties of fish and a multitude of invertebrates. Mangrove and seagrass habitats act as breeding and feeding grounds for the various species of fish, invertebrates, reptiles and seabirds of this ecoregion.
The Fiji Islands Marine Ecoregion Map. / ©: WWF
The Fiji Islands Marine Ecoregion Map. Click to view enlarged version of the map.
© WWF

Home to an extraordinary variety of marine species

Fish
The ecoregion is also home to some unique marine life, like an endemic seabird, the Fiji petrel. There are 7 known endemic species of fish in the Fijian waters and it's also a spawning ground for the endangered humphead wrasse and the world's largest parrot fish, the bumphead parrot fish.

Marine Turtles
5 of the 7 species of marine turtle migrate through Fiji’s waters; the Green, Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Olive Ridley, and Leatherback turtle. Green and hawksbill turtles most commonly nest in Fiji, where the sea grass meadows are a critical foraging area for the green turtles. Critically endangered turtles like the Leatherbacks also use these waters as feeding and migratory paths.

Whales

The warm waters are also important migratory routes for 12 species of whale. 4 of these species, the Blue whale, Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis), the Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) and Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), are considered to be endangered or vulnerable. In 2003, the Fiji government offered protection to these species by declaring Fiji’s territorial waters as a whale sanctuary.
 Humphead (or Napoleon, or Maori) wrasse. Red Sea, Egypt. / ©: WWF-Canon / WWF-Hong Kong / Cindy Cheng
Humphead wrasse uses Fijian waters as spawning grounds.
© WWF-Canon / WWF-Hong Kong / Cindy Cheng
Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus). / ©: WWF
Blue whale is one of 12 whale species that migrates through Fijian waters
© WWF

Managing marine resources sustainably

Fiji's marine resources are important to its people from both cultural and economic perspectives.

Significantly, traditional patterns of community marine tenure, as well as indigenous ecological knowledge, can be incorporated into sustainably managing marine resources.

Good local management with full community involvement is a strength of FIME conservation efforts and will ultimately contribute to both the sustainable livelihoods and empowerment of the communities involved.

 / ©: Brent Stirton/Getty Images/WWF-UK
Cheering by Naduri villagers in Fiji after the dropping of the buoy that marks the boundary of the new marine protected area.
© Brent Stirton/Getty Images/WWF-UK

Achieving goals with the help of multiple stakeholders

The scale of the Fiji Islands Marine Ecoregion (FIME) requires strong partnerships with agencies within the country to achieve the vision of ecoregion conservation. Collaboration is required between:
  • The Fiji Government and its relevant ministries and departments that are instrumental in the review and enforcement of environmental legislations and policies
  • Local communities - the traditional custodians of marine resources - are integral parts of the overall planning process, incorporating their traditional knowledge of marine conservation
  • NGOs of a wide range of expertise offering technical support which can be pooled together to enable sound and informed decisions when implementing the various phases of the vision
  • Research institutions have the scientific knowledge to identify high biodiversity areas.
Ecoregion Conservation Plan
This is a multi-stakeholder plan of action for strategic interventions to conserve priority areas of biodiversity in Fiji. The 2-step biodiversity prioritisation process includes:
  • Reconnaissance: literature review, data collection, building support and partnership, identification of experts in the region
  • Biodiversity visioning exercise: Local, national and international experts gather in a workshop to identify and endorse biodiversity priority areas, which deserve channelling of limited resources for conservation.

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