Bounties of Marine Protected Areas
Kavewa is an outlier to the north of Vanua Levu that lies within the district of Nadogo.
The headman of the only village on the island, Emosi Time, said when Kavewa-i-lau, a fishing ground behind the island opened provisionally after five years of tabu, villagers were shocked at what they discovered.
“The fish abundance and the size of the fish, whoa, it was a nice surprise,” Time said.
“Curry fish were big and beach-de-mer littered the ocean floor. Before the tabu we would find them meters apart, but this time they were all just touching each other because there was so many of them.
“The tabu has brought the island untold joy. We are also seeing some type of fish we haven’t seen for many years.”
Time said before Kavewa-i-Lau was declared a marine protected area, fish supply was already a concern.
“The sea provides us with everything – a source of food, income, supports the education of our children, meets our health needs; the sea is our closest ally,” he said.
“Over the years we saw the decline in our catch and fish size so implementing the tabu gave us some hope that the situation would change.”
Already discussions and plans are circulating amongst islanders about the creation of another tabuarea, this time to also help protect Katawaqa Island.
Katawaqa is a turtle nesting sanctuary near Kavewa Island and is critical to the growth of the sea turtle population and the work of WWF South Pacific’s Dau Ni Vonu (DnV or turtle monitors) programme.
Time also belongs to the network of 20 odd turtle monitors that the DnV programme works with at 10 locations in the Macuata and Bua provinces.
“We are also protecting the island because we want sea turtle numbers to grow again. Just as we want the seas around the island to be rich with all kinds of fish species,” he said.
“Our ocean is our life, if we protect it, it will protect us.”