The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) Launches Community-Driven Tourist Web Sites for Marine Protected Areas in Fiji
CONTACT: Julie Bennett, Communications Manager
Phone: 415-834-0900 ext. 319
Email: jbennett (at) coral.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
San Francisco, CA - June 26, 2008 - The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) today announced the launch of www.namena.org and www.waitabu.org, dedicated Web sites for the Namena Marine Reserve and the Waitabu Marine Park located in the biologically diverse waters of Fiji. These Web sites feature detailed and up-to-date visitor information, local community profiles, and facts about park operations, providing an essential resource for tourists, conservationists, members of the local government and communities, and non-governmental organizations. Made possible by the generous support of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the two Web sites were designed with extensive participation by local community members as a means of sharing traditional cultural knowledge with potential visitors and engaging the local population in the conservation of its precious natural resources.
Known to be one of the best scuba diving spots in the Fiji Islands, the roughly 40-square-mile Namena Marine Reserve is home to many endemic and rare species. Established in 1997, the reserve stretches between the two main Fijian islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Revenues from the reserve's user fee have:
- Eliminated destructive commercial fishing for nearly a decade.
- Installed mooring buoys to reduce anchor damage to the reefs.
- Provided annual scholarships for school children from the economically disadvantaged Kubulau District.
- Extended the marine protected area (MPA) to incorporate an additional eleven protected areas in a district-wide network of MPAs.
Located on Fiji's Taveuni Island, Waitabu Marine Park is a vibrant reef set aside for the benefit of tourism and education. The traditional rural village of Waitabu decided in 1998 to dedicate this area as a no-take reserve to replenish marine life and fish stocks. In place of income earned from fishing, the villagers lead snorkel tours to the park, promoting small-scale marine tourism as a consistent source of income.
Fees from the marine park provide funding for:
- Biological studies
- Park maintenance
- Environmental education projects
- Village infrastructure and health
According to Waitabu Village chief, Tui Nasau, "In village life, we help each other and work together. Everything is done as a community. We would like to share our marine park with more visitors for it to become a truly self-sustaining operation." Namena.org and Waitabu.org provide visitors with information about the abundant marine life, transportation, tours, park admission, and the local culture.
The Coral Reef Alliance is the only international organization working exclusively to protect coral reefs from the effects of global climate change and other human-induced stresses like pollution, coastal development, overfishing, and marine recreation damage. CORAL builds grassroots partnerships among local communities, government leaders, marine recreation providers, and other organizations to identify and solve conservation challenges through environmental education, training, and effective management of marine protected areas.
Find out more at www.coral.org or by calling 888-CORAL-REEF.