Marine Atlas: Maximizing Benefits for Fiji


FULL SPEED AHEAD: VESSEL TRAFFIC Fiji’s waters are a highway for thousands of domestic and international vessels that are lifelines for many Fijians who rely on the regular delivery of important goods and food items. Minimizing potential environmental and safety risks is a high priority for all.


On May 6 2017, local fishers came across shipping containers that had fallen off the 90-metre cargo vessel MV Southern Phoenix which had capsized in the port (see picture). The Phoenix is one example of a shipwreck occurring in Suva harbour and Fiji’s waters, which are highly frequented by countless do- mestic and international vessels. Given that these vessels are the lifeline of Fiji’s central and remote islands, spatial planning crucial for navigation at sea.

Ships coming in and out of Fijian ports, from fishing vessels to cargo vessels, cruise ships and ferries, serve many different purposes. Fiji has about 2,000 registered ships that are less than 15 metres in length and about 250 that are more than 15 metres in length (see table). Fishing vessels operate in a range of fisheries, including artisanal and subsistence inshore fisheries and commercial offshore fisheries for tuna and billfish (see also chapters “Fishing in the dark” and “Small fish, big importance”). The main freight ships operate out of the Port of Suva, though there are several other ports for transporting bulk goods, including sugar, molasses, wood products, petroleum and gas. The main commercial shipping routes include other Pa- cific Island countries, Australia and New Zealand, and destinations in Asia and North America. Cruise ships have been visiting Fiji since the 1990s, which has steadily increased over the following decades. In 2014, 88,000 cruise ship visitors arrived in Fiji. Many yachts also cruise Fiji’s waters (see also chapter “Beyond the beach”).

try has two main ports, Suva and Lautoka, and several secondary ports in Levuka, Vuda, Malau, Rotuma and Wairiki. The Port of Suva, located in Suva Bay, is the largest and busiest port in Fiji. The Port of Lautoka, which is situated on Vitu Levu to the north of Nadi, is Fiji’s largest port for handling bulk cargo, specifically bulk sugar, molasses, woodchips, petroleum and gas, and also serves as a base for cruise tourism. The Port of Levuka on Ovalau, Fiji’s sixth largest island, is mainly a fishing port, while the Port of Malau, located on the north-western side of Vanua Levu, serves as a smaller bulk port, primarily for molas- ses. On the opposite side of Vanua Levu in the south-east is the Port of Wairiki, which services the logging industry, primarily as a woodchip port. The Port of Vuda is first and foremost a marina, largely used by the yachting community. The Port of Rotuma on the northern Fijian island of Rotuma is a minor port, established to facilitate trade between the island and other part of Fiji, as well as other island countries.

not only for navigational safety, but also to mini- mize conflicts with Fiji’s many other marine values that are threatened, be it by fishing or oil spills. In order to avoid the negative impacts of oil trans- porters and shipping emissions in general, and to decrease Fiji’s fossil fuel dependence, more sus- tainable forms of sea transport are being explored. As a seafaring nation, Fijians can look to their ancestors, who were advanced sailors following the stars in their traditional wind-powered druas, for solutions.

Fiji Registered Ships Data, 2017

<15m 14

Type Barge Cargo Dregder Fishing Lines Boat Medical Passengers Pilot Boat

>15m 27

1 5 391 4 14 985 4

2 9 114

Fiji Ports Corporation Ltd, a government-owned company, manages Fiji’s major ports. The coun-

From the map of different types of vessels criss- crossing Fiji’s waters, it is clear that MSP is key

0 0 38

3 3 1 0 0 8

72 16

Pleasure Craft Police Vessel Private Use Research Boat Ro-Ro Ferries Tourist Tug

4 9 0 366

33 15

9 4 8 1906

Yachts Others Total

0 3 256

Tuna longliners in Suva harbour are one example of vessels that cruise Fiji’s EEZ.




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