The Fiji government has made a bold commitment to designate marine protected areas (MPAs) across 30% of its ocean spaces.
Given the well documented threats to all oceans and their resources it is a natural response to create protected areas that restrict the use of certain areas of ocean. The aims for greater protection may be varied and include to protect areas or species of special scientific interest, to preserve bio-diversity, for fisheries management reasons including for food security or to promote resilience to natural disasters and counter the effects of climate change. However, MPAs are designed to restrict the way a designated area of ocean is used, and because of this the designation of a MPA may alter, restrict, reduce, or remove pre-existing rights and commercial interests to use the marine area subject to the designation. As such the creation of MPAs may raise ethical questions and will definitely raise legal questions particularly in the area of administrative law. Last February we published this bulletin that looked at the designation of MPAs from an administrative law perspective.
In September 2017, the Fiji Environmental Law Association (FELA) together with EDO NSW and the University of the South Pacific (USP) has added to the MPA discussion through a study that considers the existing legal framework in Fiji for the creation of MPAs. This study is entitled “Towards an Effective Legal Framework for Marine Protected Areas In Fiji - a Policy and Law Discussion Paper” (ISBN 975-982-01-0965-0), and available now from the USP bookshop.