World Seas: an Environmental Evaluation, Second Edition - Chapter 35: Fiji: Coastal and marine ecosystems

Elsevier, World Seas: An Environmental Evaluation Volume II: The Indian Ocean to the Pacific, Volume , 1 January 2018
Mangubhai S., Sykes H., Lovell E., Brodie G., Jupiter S., Morris C. et al.

Fiji is one of the most developed of the Pacific Island economies and its people are highly dependent on the country’s rich biodiversity and natural resources for food, agriculture, tourism, culture, coastal protection, shelter, recreational sports, and other vital human needs. The country has undergone rapid changes in growth and development and the coastal ecosystems are increasingly threatened by a number of anthropogenic activities (e.g., overharvesting and overexploitation of land and sea resources, mining, coastal development) and their associated impacts (e.g., sedimentation, eutrophication, and pollution). At the same time, Fiji is vulnerable to natural disasters such as tropical cyclones and the impacts of climate change. These threats are resulting in losses in coastal habitats with a loss of 5% of mangroves from 1991 to 2007, particularly around urban areas. Fiji’s coral reefs, which have demonstrated considerable resilience to coral bleaching, are vulnerable to crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks, damage from cyclones, and coastal development. Seagrass habitats are critical nursery areas for fish and feeding areas for migratory turtles, but are poorly documented and threatened by coastal development. A Category 5 cyclone in 2016 caused loss and damage across all sectors including infrastructure, agricultural systems, and coastal ecosystems in the order of US$945 million. However, there are significant efforts to protect and restore habitats and fisheries through inshore locally managed marine areas connected to larger, deeper water marine managed areas, as well as an expansion in integrated coastal management efforts. Sustainable use and practical management of coastal resources are urged while there is still a chance of ecosystem repair and restoration.