Tabu Leads To Shark Nursery
Leleuvia Island Resort is host to many local and overseas guests. Now it has a new type of guest gracing the northern tip of the island permanently – baby sharks. In 2013, the new island managers Colin Philp and Lee Anne Lee introduced a tabu in the surrounding waters after gaining approval from the iTaukei with harvesting rights of marine resources within the area. A tabu is an ancient tradition of most if not all indigenous peoples of the South Pacific. It is what modern-day civilisation calls “conservation efforts”.
The tabu involves a marking off of a certain area as a no fishing or acquiring of any type of marine life zone for a specific period of time. This could be five to 10 years depending on the state of the marine life. “The reason we initiated the tabu was because the host reef was in a very bad state due to cyclone damage, overfishing and no waste water system on the island,” said Mr. Philp.
The University of the South Pacific and WWF carried out surveys and found that there was an abundance of dead or sick coral in the area along with no large fish life with very poor species diversity. Over the past few years during the tabu, significant changes have occurred in the marine life around the island. There has been a huge difference in the diversity of fish and coral stocks plus many large fish including saqa, doko ni vudi, ogo, kanace, donu, kawakawa, ulavi and cumu are now found in the area. “The shark nursery was a result of the improvement in the quality of the marine environment due to the tabu. Sharks are at the top of the food chain and a healthy shark population is a sign of a healthy marine ecosystem,” Mr Philps said.
“In 2015 we started to notice baby sharks congregating at the northern end of the island for several weeks of the year. Then this became more and more frequent. Now we see these baby sharks are there all year round and they have become a tourist attraction. “They are harmless and as long as you show them respect and do not scare them, they will show you the same respect in return. “We have had kids in the water swimming with them and loving it.”
Source: Fiji Sun / Leleuvia Island Resort 7th July, 2018