Marine Atlas: Maximizing Benefits for Fiji

BEYOND THE HOTSPOTS: BIOREGIONS Ideally ecosystem-based marine planning should be based on comprehensive data that represents all of Fiji’s marine plants and animals. This data, however is rarely available for any country. To overcome this limitation, surrogates can be used to classify the marine environment into spatial units, or bioregions, that host similar plants and animals.

The GOODS biogeographic classification from 2009 is an example of a global bioregionalization.

available for any country, including Fiji. To over- come this limitation, surrogates must be used to classify the marine environment into spatial units, or bioregions, that can host similar plants and animals. These surrogates include factors such as salinity (see also chapter “Go with the flow”), pH (see chapter “Turning sour”) or phos- phate concentration (see chapter “The dose makes the poison”). Analysing and clustering such data results in spatial units, called marine “bioregions”. These bioregions present compre- hensive descriptions of the marine biodiversity of Fiji and can be used for conservation, man- agement and planning.

Such marine classification and the use of biore- gions is not a new concept, as bioregions have been produced before at various scales in other countries, regions and globally, including some that encompass Fiji. The graphic provides one example of a global bioregionalization, the Global Open Oceans and Deep Seabed (GOODS) bioge- ographic classification, undertaken by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organ- ization (UNESCO) in 2009. Classifications such as GOODS are very useful on a global scale. However, Fiji’s large EEZ is divided into merely three bioregions, making the existing classi- fications of the marine environments, both coastal and offshore, too coarse to inform most national marine planning processes in Fiji. This calls for more detailed bioregions to inform marine planning. In 2016, in-country experts came together to describe preliminary marine bioregions for Fiji, supported by the MACBIO project. These include 23 deepwater and four reef-associated bioregions (Wendt et al., forthcoming), as shown on the map. Using these bioregions as substitutes to de- scribe the suite of marine biodiversity in Fiji, an ecologically representative system of managed and protected areas can be built. This is done by representing an example of every bioregion within an area, as well as examples of all known habitats and ecosystems (see also chapters “Nature’s hot- spots” and “Special and Unique Marine Areas”). The bioregional approach assists planners with the fact that not all habitats and ecosystems are known and mapped.

Fiji’s waters are full of valuable marine biodi- versity. To sustainably manage and protect this richness, the Fijian government is committed to delivering a comprehensive, ecologically rep- resentative network of managed and protected marine areas (see also chapter “Fiji’s commit- ment to marine conservation”). Ideally ecosys- tem-based marine planning should be based on comprehensive biodiversity data that represent all of Fiji’s marine plants and animals in its entire marine environment.

While a lot of data are accessible—as the maps in this atlas show—comprehensive data are not

Navakavu is part of the estuarine- influenced bioregion in Fiji.




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