No reef no fish, no fish no reef

When corals die, we generally think of pollution and global warming as the culprits. But overfishing is also an important factor as weakened reefs need herbivore fish to clean the dead bits, so the coral can recover and regrow.
The reefs in Fiji have mostly still beautiful coral, but overfishing is a big problem, especially near densely populated areas.
Here in Matuku the people are still subsistence farmers, relying on their gardens and of course the reef fish. Electricity has only just arrived and with it starts the exporting of fish to Suva.

We usually try to raise awareness for local environmental problems, so we started with the kids, watched some videos about parrotfish, explained and let them draw a poster and many colourful parrotfish while some adults were watching and listening. A start.
Next there was a first-aid course held by the red cross and not just nurses, but also some chiefs and headmen were there, so I seized the opportunity, told them about our experiences in other Pacific countries, showed them some shocking pictures of dead reefs and much to my surprise they were eager to hear more and learn about the causes to avoid the same happening to their island.
We were invited to do a presentation at another assembly and now Matuku will get several “tabu” areas (like the rahui in Polynesia) where fish will be protected to ensure a sustainable use of the resources (like islanders must have traditionally done for hundreds of years anyway, or they would have long starved to death).

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