By Dawn Gibson
For the people of Noco in Rewa, poaching and a lack of policing are the biggest issues they face when it comes to managing their marine protected areas.
This was the message from Fiji Locally Managed Marine Areas (FLMMA) network representative from Rewa who said about 1000 people lived around that coastal area and the prevalence of overfishing from outsiders was a major threat they faced daily.
"In terms of protecting the Noco marine protected area, one of the main problems is the policing of our area," explained FLMMA representative in Noco, Isoa Makutu.
"We only have fish wardens and earlier this year we had about two fish warden trainings so at the moment, we have about 20 fish wardens but it's a big place so we need more."
He explained that other issues were poaching and overfishing in and around their marine protected area.
"Our marine protected area is out of the sight of the villagers because the coastline villages are surrounded by dogo and tiri and so we cannot see outside to the protected area, we can't see the tabu area.
"So poaching is bad there.
"But these mangroves are part of our MPA, as you know the dogo is an important breeding place for fish and we need it, so we protect it."
He said it was paramount that policing be made more effective.
"There are about 10 villages in the district and we all look after the MPA, which starts from the coastline up to the reef so there are a lot of families.
"I think that this policing issue is one which exists throughout and this is a problem faced by all MPA owners in Fiji."