Marine Atlas: Maximizing Benefits for Fiji


While the ocean covers more than two thirds of the Earth’s surface, the oceanic territory of Fiji is 70 times larger than its land territory. With an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 1.29 million km 2 , Fiji is a large ocean state.

This island nation contains many marine ecosys- tems, from globally significant coral reefs to man- groves, seagrass areas, seamounts and deep-sea trenches supporting more than 1,200 fish species, including sharks and rays, as well as whales, dolphins and sea turtles. We are committed to conserving this unique marine biodiversity. Fiji’s marine ecosystems are worth FJ$2.5 billion per year—exceeding the country’s total export value. We are strongly committed to sustaining these values to build an equitable and prosperous blue economy. The country’s history, culture, traditions and prac- tices are strongly linked to the ocean and its biodi- versity. By sharing and integrating traditional and scientific knowledge, we are navigating towards holistic marine resource management. Traditionally, Fiji’s coastal villages manage inshore marine resources. We are striving to work together to sustainably manage all of Fiji’s iqoliqoli (tradi- tional fishing grounds) for the benefit of empow- ered and resilient communities.

At the same time, Fiji is experiencing the direct effects of climate change on its ocean and island environments. By strengthening global partner- ships, we are proudly taking leadership in climate change policy and global ocean governance. Fur- ther, through integrated and participatory planning, we are aiming to balance economic, ecological and social objectives in this EEZ for the benefit of current and future generations. This is where the Fiji Marine Atlas comes into play. Improvements in research over the years have enabled us to better understand the ocean system and to develop solutions with a sustainable ap- proach. A lot of data have become publicly availa- ble, with this atlas compiling over a hundred data sets from countless data providers to make this treasure trove of marine and coastal information accessible and usable for the first time—as maps with narratives, as data layers and as raw data. In doing so, we can maximize benefits from the ocean for Fiji, its people and its economy.

• How should we plan the uses of these ocean values and best address conflicts and threats?

• On what levels and in which ways can we man- age uses of, and threats to, our marine values?

The atlas can help decision makers from all sec- tors appreciate the values of marine ecosystems and the importance of spatially planning the uses of these values. Practitioners can assist these planning processes by using the accompanying data layers and raw data in their Geographic Information Systems. While the atlas provides the best data currently publicly available, information about Fiji’s waters is constantly increasing. Therefore, the atlas is an open invitation to use, modify, combine and update the maps and underlying data. Only by involving all stakeholders in a nationwide Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) process can we truly maximize benefits for Fiji. The e-copy and interactive version of the Fiji Ma- rine Atlas are available here: http://macbio-pacific. info/marine-atlas/fiji

In its three chapters, the atlas sets out to illustrate:

• What values does the ocean provide to Fiji, to support our wealth and well-being?



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