Ocean News

The Shark Reef Marine Reserve: a marine tourism project in Fiji

3rd August 2009

It is with great pleasure that I announce the publication of a paper published in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism that reports on the concept, implementation and success of the Shark Reef Marine Reserve in Fiji. The Save Our Seas Foundation has been supporting this small-scale conservation project in the South Pacific almost from the beginning through the funding of the Bull Shark Tagging Programme that uses Shark Reef Marine Reserve as a superb site for field work.

Instead of convincing local authorities to protect Shark Reef by first providing scientific data on, for example, species occurrence and/or abundance we chose to tackle the other end: have the site protected first and then do the work. This is possible in a place such as Fiji where the local villages own certain reef patches. Approaching them back in 2002, we convinced the local authorities that they should place a fishing ban on parts of Shark Reef which would be used by a single dive operator that offers an exclusive shark diving product to divers. As a compensation, divers would have to pay a marine park levy paid directly to the eligible villages. As you can see in the paper, this has paid well for both, the local villages as well as the dive operator. Additionally, Shark Reef Marine Reserve has become home to the Bull Shark Tagging Programme. To date, we have attached 14 pop-up satellite archival tags to bull sharks (to be continued this month) and dozens of acoustic transmitters to different shark species. It’s a great place not only for sharks, but also for scientists and divers! If you ever have the chance visiting it, do it!

Thanks to the Save Our Seas Foundation for its great support!