Expanding Community-Based Coral Conservation in Fiji

In September 2016, the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) received a grant from the U.S. Department of State to expand our work in Fiji to Cakaudrove, Ra and Lau provinces. Together with our partners, we are working with these communities to build their capacity and effectively manage their resources through training workshops such as fisheries enforcement and financial administration. These new funds allow us to expand our team and we are thrilled to introduce our new Program Coordinator, John Vonokula. Born and raised in Fiji, John is a certified diver who is passionate about engaging, learning from and working with communities to develop effective approaches to coral conservation. "We are thrilled that John is joining the CORAL family,” says Dr. Michael Webster, Executive Director at CORAL. “John has 17 years years of experience working with Fiji's fisheries department, and his knowledge, passion and energy will help ensure the … [Read more...]

Protecting More Coral Reefs in Fiji

It’s a hot, humid day and I’m visiting the village of Waivunia on the island of Vanua Levu in Fiji. I’m sitting around a kava bowl with community elders, and we are discussing how to protect and conserve their marine resources. You see, this community depends on coral reefs, but the reefs are facing mounting threats. The elders are concerned: they want to ensure there are fish in the sea for their grandchildren and great grandchildren. I am here, in Fiji, as part of my work with the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL), and at the request of communities who have asked us to help them create effective and durable approaches to coral conservation. I am here to help save coral reefs. CORAL has worked in Fiji for the past 15 years. We’ve worked closely with the resource management committee in the Kubulau district—also known as the KRMC. The Kubulau community has traditional ownership of the Namena Marine Reserve—one of the largest tabu … [Read more...]

Making Connections Across Melanesia

My work with the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) provides me with many memorable experiences and opportunities. One of the greatest rewards is meeting and working with such diverse groups of people and building strong connections with the communities in Fiji. Following Tropical Cyclone Winston, l discovered just how passionately connected to the Kubulau community I had become. I wanted to do more to help, and in July, I had an amazing opportunity to connect on a much larger scale at the inaugural Melanesian Spearhead Group, Emerging Leaders Program. Here, I learned about new ways to help community’s recovery from devastation and hardships caused by such a catastrophic storm. During the Melanesian Youth Leaders Forum, I met people from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Fiji. We all shared our successes and challenges and along the way, we gathered valuable and shareable lessons. Forum Snapshot: … [Read more...]

Rediscovering Fiji’s Coral Reefs

By Jeff Chanin, Member of the CORAL International Council In November 2015, I boarded a 9:30 p.m. flight from Los Angeles and eleven hours later awoke to another dawn in another world. It was my fourth visit to Fiji since my first in 1980, and as I stepped off the jet, I was again welcomed by a chorus of island birds drifting my way on a warm tropical breeze. Fiji is a land of song, gentle people, and warmth above and below. I knew this was just the start of so much more to come.   On this live-aboard trip, I spent ten days on the Nai’a with 17 people from around the globe, cruising and diving Fiji’s Bligh Waters. Our itinerary included a return to one of my favorite dive destinations on the planet—the Namena Marine Reserve. Five years ago I made a day trip to Namena’s amazing reefs, diving twice among its brilliantly colored soft corals and huge schools of fish. This time, I was looking forward to several days’ of … [Read more...]