In Kubalua, Fiji, the Namena Marine Reserve serves to protect fish stocks and ecosystem function. Today the reserve is recognized as a world-class dive destination. By developing a user fee for divers visiting the Namena Marine Reserve, CORAL has been able to create a sustainable revenue stream to help offset the costs associated with reserve management. In addition to funding management of the reserve, the dive tag revenue is also used to fund community development projects and academic scholarships for Kubulau youth. The offspring of the fish in this reserve can be harvested in adjacent areas, and the community sees the value of this conservation tool.
Soon after the reserve was established in 1997, the Kubulau community imposed a “goodwill fee” on tourists who came to swim, snorkel, or dive within the reserve as a means to replace income lost from the sale of fishing licenses. In 2003, CORAL assisted the local community in increasing their user-fee from FJ$2 per year to FJ$25 per year; and then again in 2012 to FJ$30.
CORAL has worked with the people of Kubulau to strengthen the reserve by training all marine tourism providers conducting business within the marine reserve in CORAL’s sustainable marine recreation standards and by installing permanent moorings throughout the protected area, creating Fiji’s first anchor-free MPA. We have worked closely with Fiji’s Fisheries Ministry to support community enforcement and marine patrols within the reserve by training local fish wardens. CORAL has also supported the Kubulau Resource Management Committee (KRMC), appointed by the paramount chiefs of the district, to responsibly manage the local natural resources. By catalyzing the creation of a companion body, the Kubulau Business Development Committee (KBDC), an association of former Kubulau residents and now successful businessmen and business owners in the Fijian capital of Suva, we have elevated others to serve as advisors on managing the Namena Marine Reserve as a business.