A student field-trip to Qoma Island, Fiji
Today we are pleased to bring to you the reports of a field-trip that one of our TARD members has undertaken from 25-26 April 2006. This field trip involves a visit to Qoma Island in Tailevu which is on the southeastern part of Viti Levu, where Suva is located.
According to TARD member, Mr Wilfred Atomea who was on that trip, there were about 30 students that went on the trip which include lecturers and other frends. This trip was part of the course work of a Ocean Resources Management unit under the Faculty of Islands and Oceans at USP.
"We went to the island on 25th and then came back yesterday (26th april 2006). The aim of the fieldtrip was to find out the impacts of the community management on marine resources. Another objective was to see other pertaining issues that hinders the management of ocean resources there," said Mr Atomea.
According to their findings, it is obvious that the local community was committed to caring for their ocean resouces. The chiefs are very powerful and take a leading role in deciding for the community the things they are supposed to follow in terms of ocean resources, and the order of the entire community. It was also found that the people still enjoy the fun of catching big reef fish and other marine products that other Pacific Island countries are lacking at the moment.
The main source of income for the community was from fishing, and rootcrops are the stable food. However, the standard of living is low. There are also a lot of semi-permanent houses, poor sanitation, no water supply, and no electricity. These have been attributed to the low standard of living. The need for money is a major contributing factor that force these people to harvest more fish to sell to the market in order for them to pay their children's school fees and other household needs.
Despite these short falls, it was noted that this community showed committment and responsibility in caring for and conserving their limited coastal resources. The idea was initiated by themselves so they respect it.
The lesson that can be learned from this is that it is very important to incorporate communities in the decision making process of new programmes. Once they feel that they own the initiative, they will respect it which is useful towards sustaining its continuity.
Reports and pictures by: Wilfred Atomea (University of the South Pacific, Suva)