On Saturday, we went out in the rain to snorkel along the reefs directly in front of Suva to check out our “degraded site”. We were pleasantly surprised to see that the outer reefs were predominantly pretty healthy, with very low levels of fleshy algae and relatively high coral cover and diversity despite fish levels seeming quite low. For the next three days, our site investigation will now extend south-west from Suva.
The first step of this is to meet with community chiefs and ask their permission to carry out our research in their qoliqoli (fishing ground controlled by specific community). This procedure is required under the governance system in Fiji, which has retained strong traditional roles of communities. The meeting consists of a “sevusevu”, a ceremony whereby we present the chief and head of village with a small gift in the form of Yaqona (the local name for Kava).