The MPAs in Beqa Lagoon
Beqa Lagoon is divided to seven sectioned qoliqolis (traditionally owned seascapes) with the villages of Rukua and Yanuca having ownership on approximately 70% of the seascape and holding three qoliqolis. Two of which are shared by between the two villages, and one, section 4 covering 27 nm2, is shared by them. With efforts by a verity of bodies, including the local villagers, FLMMA, department of fisheries, iTaukei Land & Fisheries Commission, provincial offices, the University of the South Pacific, and instigated and coordinated by PBF, two MPAs were established within these qoliqolis. These MPAs are named Kauviti and Navata-i-Lulu, and they harbour some of the best reefs and diving sites in the area; including high coral cover on the patch reefs, deep passages, extent soft coral formations and shipwrecks.
The Yanuca qoliqoli, encompassing about 22 nm2 of coral reefs and deep passages, harbours Yanuca and Bird Islands and traditionally owned by Yanuca villagers from Yanuca Island. The Kauviti MPA was declared in 2009, offsetting an area of about 3 nm2 as a no-take area. The area stretches from the western shoreline of Yanuca Island westward encompassing the outer margins of the barrier reef.
The shared qoliqoli between Rukua and Yanuca villagers, section 4, is the largest qoliqoli in the Beqa Lagoon, with scattered patch reefs and a long section of the barrier reef. An official commemoration of the Yanuca and Rukua villagers’, coordinated by PBF, displaying a mutual vision to initiate a drive towards sustainable fishery and resource management, led to declaring the Navata-i-Lulu MPA in 2012. The MPA comprises an area of about 2.5 nm2, which includes a section of the barrier reef, the Frigates passage and the two reefs in it, and the famed world-class surf spot ‘Frigates break’.
Beqa Lagoon area with sectioned qoloqolis (yellow margins) and MPAs (red margins). Section 6, owned by Rukua village; section 5, owned by Yanuca village, encompassing Yanuca Island and Bird Island, and Kauviti MPA (A); Section 4, shared qoliqoli, encompassing Navata-i-Lulu MPA (B). Image by Google Earth.
Frigates brake, world famous “Fiji Pipeline”, located on the outer reef within the Navata-i-Lulu MPA)