Marine Internships Fiji is now closed for 2016.
If you are thinking about joining the Marine Internship in Fiji or are interested in gaining your dive qualifications in a unique setting then read on to find out why you should do this…
The Yasawas are a chain of 20 volcanic islands in the far Western part of Fiji, stretching deep into the South Pacific. A 5 hour boat journey from mainland at the very top of this island chain is a small beautiful island called Nanuya LaiLai, which is currently at the heart of an innovative marine conservation initiative called community-based adaptive management.
Islands face an abundance of stress that affect their fragile surrounding environment, and Fiji is no exception to that rule. Increased water temperatures, cyclone devastation and over-fishing present a range of pressures that have led to the decline of the local marine biodiversity. This is not only devastating for species in the South Pacific but also for the coastal communities that rely on this as a food source to survive. It is for this reason that the Marine Conservation project was set up.
What can I expect?
This project, although marine focused, is a rare opportunity to see the intricate relationship between conservation and community as you become immersed in the real Fijian life. Forget the usual tourist trap and see Fiji as it really should be - like a local islander. Living amongst the 50 residents of Nanuya and working alongside them means you really get to know the local community in ways that you wouldn’t as a tourist. The base also works with two primary schools on neighbouring islands and has developed an innovative community development project installing water tanks into neighbouring villages to tackle drought, another issue the Fijians regularly face. This unique interaction between projects means that you will regularly be sipping Kava with the locals, taking part in Fijian birthday celebrations with Lo’s tea house cake and doing what the Fijians do best – dancing!
As a marine volunteer you will receive extensive dive training in a conservation specific environment and there is no doubt about it - you WILL become an expert on the marine environment. This combined also makes you an excellent diver and is undoubtedly the best way to learn to become a divemaster. I speak from experience and through completing projects like this along the way in Madagascar and Honduras led me to the role Base Manager and Divemaster for the programmes in the Yasawas. Fiji truly provides exceptional diving but what I most loved about diving here and this project over other locations is the unique opportunity to be involved in conservation from the get go and see how dramatically these changes make to the coastal communities. Diving occurs every day setting off early from the base to survey sites all over the island chain, from the famous ‘Blue Lagoon’ to the recently protected shark site ‘Cathedral’. Dolphins weren’t a rare site, and visiting the Manta Ray’s is an absolute must. I swam with 9 including one albino!
The significant thing about this marine initiative is that it’s being set up as Locally Managed Marine Protected areas (LMMA’s) so that the community are in charge of managing their own resources. Alongside the Ministry of Fisheries and local partner FLAMMA the locals are trained in protecting their coral reefs. This is making a change in a directly sustainable way and more projects like this between community and conservation could dramatically aid in the marine recovery.
If you are considering a Marine Internship in Fiji, don’t even think about it. Just do it. Give us a call on 033 3999 7516 and one of our experts can give you more information about this programme.