Why Fiji is so important
Five of the seven species of marine turtles globally are found in the coastal waters of Fiji - the green (endangered); hawksbill (critically endangered); Olive Ridley (vulnerable); leatherback (critically endangered in the Pacific) and the loggerhead turtle (vulnerable) respectively. The most commonly occurring are green and hawksbill which also nest on Fiji’s beaches, as more rarely do leatherback turtles.
Fiji is an island nation located in the south Pacific and is made up of over 330 islands of which around 110 are permanently inhabited. Fiji is 194,000 square kilometres in size but only 10% of that is land. Around three-quarters of the population live on the coast meaning Fijians have a particular dependence on, and cultural connection to, the ocean.
Fiji has a long-standing network of organisations involved in the conservation of marine turtles many of whom have partnered with WWF-Fiji over the last decade. WWF-Fiji is implementing a marine turtle project, currently focused on nesting sites on the north shore of second largest island, Vanua Levu and on influencing national level policy and practice.
The project has four main strategies:
- Research and knowledge gaps are filled with key findings informing the efffective management of marine turtles;
- The Fiji marine turtle steering committee is operating effectively to oversee the implementation of the national marine turtle recovery plan;
- Community stakeholders are effectively engaged in marine turtle conservation and are influencing key decision makers;
- Accidental by-catch of marine turtles is reduced