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Dolphins From March 2011, South Pacific Projects aims to support a spinner dolphin research and conservation project that was initiated by Dr Cara Miller of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society International. Dr Miller has been conducting research on a resident population of these dolphins that have been shown to use this reef as critical resting habitat.

Moon Reef lies approximately one hour by boat northwest of South Pacific Projects' current field site on Leleuvia Island, in Bau Waters. The reef is just twenty minutes offshore of Nataleira village in the district of Dawasamu. A beautiful, heavily-forested, and mountainous area, that is home to eight villages and three schools. The reef where the dolphins come to rest is within the local fishing grounds (traditionally known as 'Qoliqoli's') of the eight villages. The local community has identified a need to protect not just Moon Reef, but the rest of their marine environment and recently set up a new conservation committee, 'Rescue Dawasamu', with two representatives from each of the eight villages.
Folk South Pacific Projects already works in partnership with the Department of Fisheries, The University of the South Pacific and is a member of the Fijian Locally Managed Marine Area Network (FLMMA). FLMMA is a regionally recognised NGO whose purpose is to empower local communities to sustainably manage their marine resources. When a community identifies a need for setting up a 'Tabu' (Marine Protected Area) they can make a request to FLMMA to host a series workshops that get the process going. South Pacific Projects, in partnership with the communities of Bau, led by the great great grandson of the High Chief of Fiji, Ratu Epenisa Cakobau, is currently helping to establish the very first LMMA in Bau Waters and hopes to see it in place by the middle of the year.
Ocean Visions
More dolphins.  Possibly the same ones Dr Miller would like to see South Pacific Projects working in Dawasamu to conduct awareness-raising projects about environmental issues in the villages and the local schools. Other benefits include providing training and new employment opportunities, as well as offering Marine Science Scholarships and Internships to Fijian students. The South Pacific Projects team will also be actively contributing to vital baseline information on the spinner dolphin population related to movement, behaviour, habitat and acoustics. Dr Miller sees the proposed collaboration as a great opportunity to increase data collection, engage more actively with the community and integrate with the national plans of both the Fiji Fisheries Department and the FLMMA network. Such collaboration is often the catalyst for important long-term conservation goals.
Man, not dolphin There are currently two accommodation options for visitors to the area, one of which, the Nataleira Eco-Lodge, is wholly community-owned and operated. South Pacific Projects aims to take volunteer groups to the Eco-Lodge for seven to ten day periods every two months in order to carry out surveys of the spinner dolphins. Training would be provided by Dr Miller and the volunteer data that is collected will contribute to a new sustainable Management Plan for the area, including Moon Reef. For more information on Dr Miller and her important work in the Pacific, please visit: wdcs.org

For more information on how you can contribute to marine conservation and sustainable community development in Fiji: southpacificprojects.org
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