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The movement of villagers into urban areas is putting pressure on fish populations on the reefs surrounding these cities.

City vs Village Fishing

Coral reefs are traditional sources of food on many Pacific Islands. An increasing number of people are moving from villages into cities. Coral reefs near these cities struggle to feed so many people. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) can help more people to be fed.

 Fiji and over fishing

Worldwide, people are moving from villages into big cities.  This puts increasing pressure on ecosystems near these cities to provide food and other resources.

Naigani is a traditional Fijian village with a population of 50-60 people, and locals have miles of reef in which to fish.  The amount of fish taken is usually small enough that these reefs feed the village sustainably.

In contrast, reefs near the capital of Fiji, Suva, cannot support this city.  Suva is one of the largest cities in the Pacific Islands with a population of 160,000 people. Most people originally came from small villages similar to Naigani. 

With so many people to feed, market fishermen have to range further and further afield as reefs near the city become increasingly depleted.  The demand for fish is too large to be met by the nearby reefs. Fishing is becoming more and more difficult, but also ecologically unsustainable.  Taking fish at an unsustainable rate depletes fish stocks and makes reefs less productive.

 Can you maintain fish numbers near cities?

One possible solution is to restrict or ban fishing on parts of a reef. These areas are called Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), marine reserves or Marine Managed Areas (MMAs).

This gives fish a refuge where they can grow and reproduce in safety.  Big female fish produce much more offspring than smaller ones. These big fish build up fish numbers and fish spill into surrounding waters where they are able to be caught. MPAs act as reservoir of fish to provide a sustainable source of food.

 Fiji's MPSa and sustainability

Overfishing strips the reef of its diversity. This drops productivity because diverse ecosystems use their resources more efficiently. Marine protected areas preserve the diversity and productivity of coral reefs.

 References

LMMA. (2005). LMMA home page. The locally-managed marine area (LMMA) network. Retrieved 16 July 2008 from http://www.lmmanetwork.org/

ReefBase. Status - Coral Reefs: Southwest Pacific, Fiji. ReefBase. Retrieved 16 July 2008 from http://www.reefbase.org/global_database/dbs1,22,FJI,1.aspx

Suva City Council. (2008, June 24). About Suva City.  Suva City Council. Retrieved 16 July 2008 from http://www.suvacity.org/suva-city.html

Wikipedia. (2008, 21 July). Urbanization. Wikipedia. Retrieved 25 July 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urbanization

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