Communities in Udu, Fiji Efforts Spearheading Sea Turtle Conservation
Beekeeping has been recognized as a less labour-intensive and time-consuming means of agricultural income generation, equally accessible to both men and women. It serves as a valuable alternative to traditional activities, such as sea turtle harvesting, that put immense pressure on marine ecosystems.
Community members recently participated in a comprehensive beekeeping training program, which included hands-on training in honey harvesting, as well as financial literacy and savings programs. This holistic approach empowers communities and fosters sustainable practices.
The training saw active participation from representatives of Cawaro, Nukudamu, Nukusa, Vunikodi, and Nabouono villages. This initiative reflects Udu's responsibility as one of the traditional custodians of a section of the Great Sea Reef, one of the priority seascapes identified by the Fijian Government. With support from the World Wide Fund for Nature office in Fiji (WWF-Fiji), additional alternative livelihood options are being explored.
In 2021, the Bose Vanua members took a significant step by banning the harvesting of sea turtles for functions and celebrations, demonstrating their commitment to protect sea turtle populations and their nesting sites.
Ratu Isireli Leweniqila, the Turaga na Tui Drano, on behalf of Nabouono Village, expressed the importance of reducing over-reliance on marine resources.
"By embracing beekeeping and other alternatives, along with financial literacy training, we aim to contribute to the welfare of our marine life and our people, including our beloved marine turtles during traditional ceremonies," he stated.
The participation of women in beekeeping is estimated to be between 25-35 percent by the Fiji Ministry of Agriculture. Marica Mocevakura, a representative from the Veilomani Women's Club, endorsed the small-scale beekeeping initiative.
"We are excited to participate in this training because it's less labour-intensive for us, yet we have the potential to earn just as much as before, if not more. We're enthusiastic about expanding this business model, benefiting not only our women's club but also the men and our young people," Mocevakura mentioned.
Nabouono Village's beekeeping livelihood initiative, managed by their nine-member women's club, has been in operation for over five years. The training also included the hands-on experience of harvesting 10 bee hive boxes, providing participants with practical skills and knowledge for sustainable beekeeping practices.
Duncan Williams, the Sustainable Fisheries and Seafood Programme Manager for the WWF-Fiji office, highlighted the importance of engaging and supporting communities in seeking alternative livelihood options. He noted that these sustained beekeeper training programs enhance technical skills and capacity, leading to increased productivity and profitability.
"The successful integration of this initiative, combined with the community's desire to conserve their marine resources, including sea turtles, is a recognition of the symbiotic relationship between sustainable livelihoods and biodiversity conservation. It's a win-win for all!" concluded Williams.
The training was funded by WWF-UK through the Safeguarding Nesting Populations of Sea Turtles in Fiji Project.
- The Great Sea Reef of Fiji, the third-longest continuous reef system in the Southern Hemisphere, starts in the Udu district.
- The training supports WWF-Pacific’s 2025 Conservation Priorities of:
- Supporting 30x30: conserving marine and forest areas critical to communities and biodiversity to enhance climate resilience.
- Sustainable fisheries and blue food: increasing sustainability of offshore and coastal fisheries to ensure food security and protect species.
- Conserving marine species: understanding populations and conserving habitats for turtles, sharks, rays and dugongs.
- GEDSI mainstreaming: to ensure our projects and programmes are more inclusive and ultimately benefit more people.
- Sustainable blue economy: enabling investments that will help deliver benefits for people and nature.
For media inquiries and additional information, please contact:
Mr. Ravai Vafo’ou
Communications Officer, WWF-Pacific
Phone: +679 238 2192
WWF-Pacific is part of the global WWF network, the world's leading independent conservation organization, active in nearly 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and build a future in which people live in harmony with nature. For more information about WWF-Pacific and its initiatives, visit https://www.wwfpacific.org/