Preparing Communities for Coral Bleaching A Reef Resilience Network Success Story

Fiji's Locally Managed Marine Area Network

Fiji encompasses one of the most extensive coral reef systems in the Southwest Pacific, home to a vast array of reef structures that account for almost 4% of the world's total reef area. Famous oceanographic explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau coined Fiji as the "soft coral capital of the world" due to the region's abundance of coral diversity and marine life. In an effort to protect Fiji's coastal treasures, international NGOs and local communities worked together to establish a network of locally managed marine areas in Fiji.

Meet the Manager

Yashika Nand, Marine Scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society Fiji

After the designation of Fiji's Locally Managed Marine Area (FLMMA) network, Yashika Nand, Marine Scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Fiji, began working with FLMMA partners and community representatives to integrate reef resilience principles into MPA management plans. By introducing FLMMA managers to reef resilience concepts, Yashika and her team (from WCS and SeaChange) aimed to minimize the impact of climate change on reef ecosystems and help them to thrive in the future. Yashika and her team developed the Fiji Reef Resilience Program to introduce FLMMA managers to resilience and support integration of resilience concepts into management. While drafting the Reef Resilience Program for Fiji's LMMA, the team recognized the need for additional information on resilience principles and adaptive management before launching the Fiji Reef Resilience Program.

Reef Resilience Network Support

Yashika was nominated by her team to participate in a Reef Resilience Training of Trainers (TOT) course to expand her understanding of reef resilience principles and management techniques to aid in the development of the Fiji Reef Resilience Program. The TOT course consisted of a 4-month online course mentored by global and regional coral reef experts, followed by a week-long in-person workshop. During the TOT course, Yashika increased her knowledge of resilient MPA network design and coral disease, received guidance on the Fiji Reef Resilience Program, and acquired valuable information to use when conducing resilience workshops for Fiji LMMA community representatives. In addition, Yashika learned how to develop bleaching response plans, inspiring her to create the framework of a bleaching response plan that is easily adaptable for community representatives to work from and implement in their own district. Yashika left the TOT course equipped with new information and resources on managing for resilience and outlined specific plans to host a workshop for Fiji LMMA partners and community representatives.

After the training, I was able to apply many of the skills I learned from Reef Resilience and hosted a 2-day workshop to share resilience concepts with community representatives who help manage Fiji's Locally Managed Marine Area. I used information directly from the Training of Trainers course for my presentations at the workshops. - Yashika Nand
Group photo of participants from Reef Resilience Training of Trainers Workshop 2011.

Successes and Next Steps

After returning from the TOT workshop, Yashika shared information, tools and resources she learned with her team to incorporate into the Fiji Reef Resilience Program. Yashika and her team then hosted a 2-day Reef Resilience workshop for FLMMA partners and community representatives to introduce them to resilience principles and coral disease, train managers in adaptive management, and develop bleaching response plans. As a result, four community representatives developed and implemented bleaching response plans for their districts based on the information and framework they learned from the Fiji Reef Resilience workshop. The workshop provided an introduction to resilience for FLMMA managers in Fiji, initiating a movement to incorporate resilience into management. Participants recognized the importance of sharing this information with other districts who were unable to attend and held additional trainings based on the information they acquired during the Reef Resilience workshops.

From left to right: Yashika Nand presenting during a Fiji Reef Resilience Workshop. Workshop attendees participating in a group activity.

While attending the TOT course, Yashika was introduced to coral disease and learned about environmental drivers that influence coral disease outbreaks. After seeing photos of corals affected by disease during the TOT course, Yashika recognized disease symptoms and realized coral disease was likely occurring on Fiji's reefs. She found it important to share what she learned about coral disease with FLMMA partners and community representatives during the Fiji Reef Resilience workshop to determine if they recognized coral disease occurring on the reefs in their district. Prior to her presentation on coral disease, managers were unfamiliar with disease and had little information on what it was or how to identify it. During her presentation, managers quickly recognized coral disease and believed it was present on their reefs, raising concern and interest to learn more about the causes of coral disease in Fiji.

Before the Training of Trainers course, we never knew how important coral disease was. After I presented on coral disease during the our workshops in Fiji, there was a lot of concern about diseases on the reef systems. - Yashika Nand

Due to the lack of information available on coral diseases in Fiji, Yashika was inspired to go back to school to learn about coral disease to help guide management strategies. Yashika spent the last four years at the University of the Pacific studying coral disease distribution in Fiji. She plans to expand the audience of the Fiji Reef Resilience Program to include the tourism sector where she can share information about resilience and coral disease to help improve effectiveness of current management strategies.


Image 1: © Jeff Yonover. Image 2: © Yashika Nad. Image 3: © Darla White. Image 4: © The Nature Conservancy. Image 5-6: ©  Yashika Nad. Image 7: ©  Jeff Yonover.

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