Initiating Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) in the Fiji Islands
Fiji, like most Pacific Island nations, has a local tenurial control system embedded in the cultural tradition of its indigenous people. This provides both opportunities and challenges for the implementation of integrated coastal management (ICM). In this situation, an approach that focuses on national-level activities in coastal management may not be effective. Experience in Fiji has shown that the participatory approach of working with communities and districts that control the resources to develop and implement marine resource management plans is very effective in addressing many coastal issues at a local level. This locally-managed marine area approach is being used as a basis for ICM, whereby activities are undertaken to scale-up the approach to a larger geographical area, address additional coastal management issues, involve all stakeholders and link efforts to national level activities. In Fiji, the ICM program has developed by:
- A national workshop to endorse ICM and agree on a pilot area, the Coral Coast
- Work with districts on the Coral Coast to develop localised coastal management plans
- Involvement of all stakeholders (private sector, communities, government and NGOs) to develop a joint ICM action plan
- Implementation of the plan and meetings every two months by a local ICM steering committee to review progress and identify areas where national input is needed
- Provision of scientific information required for effective management ß Meetings by a parallel national ICM committee to discuss issues raised at Coral Coast site and national policy changes that may be required.
- Capacity building at both the local and national level through workshops and overseas training.
This approach seems to be working well and assures that the need for ICM grows naturally from actual practical needs of coastal dwellers. The ICM process being trialed along the Coral Coast is also providing valuable lessons on the advantages and disadvantages of the approach, problems that may be encountered and ways to better adapt the process to Fiji and other Pacific Island countries.