Indo-Fijian Fishing Communities: Relationships with Taukei in Coastal Fisheries
In the Pacific, customary marine tenure-ship and management has been practised for centuries. Community based marine resource management (CBMRM) initiatives have seen governments, local communities and non-government organisations adopt various management tools to improve coastal fisheries. Despite these efforts, there are growing concerns over the decline of fisheries resources and the subsequent social-ecological problems that affect coastal communities. In the last three decades, Fiji, has implemented various forms of CBMRM initiatives with varying social-ecological successes. Marine management and conservation efforts across the 410 qoliqoli areas (fishing grounds) are predominantly driven by Indigenous Taukei communities and non-government conservation organisations (NGOs). Over the past two years local communities, NGOs, and government have led and supported new management efforts to improve fisheries sustainability in the country. Non-Indigenous resource users are limited by social and political policies to access and participate in coastal resource management. Fijians of Indian descent (Indo-Fijians) represent the second-largest ethnic group in Fiji and are engaged in both subsistence and artisanal fisheries. Their involvement and participation within the broader socio- economic and socio-political aspects of coastal fisheries is considerable, however, remains hidden. Using a qualitative approach, this study explores the issues, challenges, and opportunities that Indo-Fijian communities experience in the coastal fisheries sector in Ba Province, Fiji. Findings from the research illustrate the informal yet complex nature of socio-economic and socio-cultural community relationships between customary Taukei qoliqoli owners and Indo-Fijian people. The role of Indo-Fijian women within the coastal fisheries sector is notable. The success of contemporary CBRMN in Fiji is dependent upon a re- imagined, re-adapted, diverse approach. Most importantly, this research provides an opportunity to foster discussion within contemporary community based marine management and conservation efforts currently in place by customary Taukei qoliqoli owners, conservation organisations and the government.