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Phase 1 - Annual Report 2002

LäjeRotuma Initiative was started up in 2002 by a number of Rotuman university graduates.

LäjeRotuma is an environmental awareness development program for Rotuma Island.

LäjeRotuma vision and goal
Noa'ia'e mauri!
Environmental Concerns
Training of Trainers
Training of Island Youth
Primary Poster Competition
Rotuma Coastline Clean-up
Community Outreach
Transects & Manta Tows
LäjeRotuma assists
LäjeRotuma Partnerships
LäjeRotuma Contacts

Vision To maximize the future, environmental and sustainable options for the island of Rotuma and her people.

Goal To strengthen natural resource management, with particular emphasis on marine life and of the Rotuman community living on the island for the benefit of the current and future generations.

Noa'ia'e mauri!
The year 2002 for LäjeRotuma, has been a challenging one. I grew up on the home island and over the years noticed the changes; this echoed by many and changes which didn't seem to improve over time. In response, to such environmental concerns, LäjeRotuma was initiated. The birth of a vision from a simple idea, has created the spirit of community conservation on the island and sparking interest from related fields of research. For many of us involved in the Initiative, it has been an enriching experience and the dawn of the new year brings new responsibilities for LäjeRotuma. A special mention of the families and friends of LäjeRotuma who
have assisted or contributed in kind to the Initiative. Noaia 'e hanisi to those who have gone out of their way to open their doors and mind to learn and listen and to the donor community who funded the Rotuma trips. It is with hope and prayer that the Initiative becomes that of a people's vision for their home island.
Monifa Fiu [Coordinator]

Environmental Concerns
The coral reefs and marine ecosystems of the Pacific islands are among the most important natural assets on Earth. Many Pacific Islanders live close to the sea in dispersed village communities that depend on marine life for their protein supply. Their lives, customs, languages and knowledge are linked inextricably with the ocean and island shores. Rotuma Island with an approximate land area of 43 sq. km, located about465km North of the Fiji Islands, like other Pacific islands are experiencing the brunt of over exploitation of its marine ecosystem.

Environmental Concerns raised by the islanders:

  • Smaller sized and reduced catch to date (inshore fisheries)
  • Reduction in fishing holes within the lagoon, clogged by an unknown fast-growing coral species, a local phenomenon called kama
  • Irresponsible dumping of household rubbish to the foreshore
  • Coastal erosion and Coral Bleaching

LäjeRotuma envisions the interaction between traditional knowledge and scientific study, to enhance the islanders' understanding of their island environment.

Training of Trainers
WWF supports Rotuman youth initiative to promote conservation on the island....

A workshop facilitated by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Fiji Country Program, was aimed at equipping the young trainers in participatory skills and tools designed to allow them to conduct community-based training workshops on environmental awareness at the home island.

  • Visualizing resources & gathering Information-traditional knowledge & history
  • Understanding the community
  • Concerns & Opportunities- Identifying Problems and devising solutions
  • Dreams & Visions

Training of Island Youth Trainers

Community Resource Conservation Workshop-
Participatory Learning & Action Tools

Rotuma Primary Posters Competition 2002

The 4 primary schools on the island had a poster competition on a variety of themes focusing on Rotuma. The posters reflect the abundant marine life, a youngster's knowledge of his or her home island.

Winning Poster - Paptea District School

Christ the King Primary School
Malhaha Primary School

Motusa Primary School

Coastline Clean-up

The coastline clean-up is part of the Coral Reef Alliance Dive in to Earth Day Network. The Rotuma coastal clean-up was carried out a week before the Rotuma Day celebrations on May 13th 2002 and coordinated by the Island Coordinator, Youth Trainers, and the Rotuma Health Inspector. A total of 422 volunteers took part in the event.


Amount of debris collected

Average amount of debris collected per volunteer

The table shows the amount of debris collected (in percentage) per district on its clean-up day. It also reflects the level of participation.

Community Outreach
Evening Sessions --The People's Forum

Some of the Questions and Issues raised with LäjeRotuma by the islanders:

  • Who is LäjeRotuma? What are its plans for the island?
  • What is happening in the sea- i.e. the kama phenomenon? the smaller sized catch (inshore fisheries) as compared to before?
  • Coastline pollution-dumping of household rubbish to the beach!
  • The use of pesticides and weedicides by the villagers on their land. How harmful is it to the land?
  • Villagers' observations of the changes- seasons and how rare it is to catch octopus!
  • Coastal erosion and the observed changes along the coastline by the villagers due to coastal processes.
  • The reduced number of canoes and some of the traditional fishing methodc like the use of fish traps, women's (mostly) use of nets for "sua tutu'u".
  • The debate over the harmful use of some of the traditional fishing methods- use of plant poison "tuah niukin ta".
  • Coral Biology-basic understanding of coral reef ecology as explained by the science team! The bleaching of corals!
    The villagers tell of past business schemes or events that is believed to have an impact on the observed absences of certain species of fish and changes in ‘their’ lagoons e.g., the beche-der-mer, lobster export business.
  • Why a coastline cleanup? Who is responsible for debris brought along by the tide from elsewhere?
  • The role of the health inspector and uphold of both communal and public health and safety regulations! To revive the old communal laws regarding the cleanliness of the community-imposed and assisted by the chiefs in their districts.

Transects Collected specific information about the environment, resources and human use of the area.

Rotuma has a central chain of forest-clad peaks and undulating coastal flats of varying width. Its volcanic soil is very rich, supporting luxuriant growth of plants. The 4 land transects from 4 distinct mounts on the island provide a cross-section of the island's vegetation and how the land is used, In overall, the 4 transects reflect that much of the land is used farming, creating pig pens, and clearing for dwellings, closer to the coastline. Further survey is needed to identify the plant types found, in particular, at the top of the mount where older, mature trees seem to have survived without much disturbance.

A narrow sandy isthmus (Motusa) connects the two essentially distinct parts of the island. Well-developed fringing reefs surround the island and the reef flat is narrow in all but a few places (notable the Southeast corner). Two anchorages on the North shore provide adequate shelter from South East trade winds. A wharf has recently been repaired and extended at Oinafa. Rotuma is divided into 7 districts (refer to drawn map): Noatau, Oinafa, Pepjei, Juju, ltu'muta, ltu'ti'u, Malhaha, headed by a traditional chief. These chiefs with an elected district representative make up the Rotuma Council, the ultimate authority on the island. Inter-island vessels, both government and charters have long been the only means of transport of goods and people to and from the island. The presence of an airstrip has made it possible for at least two-weekly flights from Suva, Fiji. Cooperatives and small privately owned shops play a dominant role in the commerce of the island; importing consumer goods and handling agricultural produce. The radio telephone facilities at Ahau Government Station, and the installation of telephones in individual homes, has improved communication with Fiji.

Marine resources represent a big source of subsistence protein, which is heavily supplemented by imported tinned stuff, Many use punts and outboard motors for in particular, deep sea fishing. Efficient fishing methods with the use of nylon lines, steel hooks and lures, enable the fishers to venture outside the lagoon. Outrigger canoes are few in numbers. Inshore fishing primarily involves: small gill nets used intermittently; spearing fish and lobsters; collecting shellfish on the reef flat; hand-lining from canoes and on along the shore.

Figure a: The map shows LäjeRotuma's Actions in 2002 - Phase 1

Note: This map is not drawn to scale.

Table 1. Sites used for manta tows. Refer to map for locations of each tow..

Site Code Site name/General location GPS Start
NIT NO 1 Sunflower Reef Noatau - outer slope S 12 31.771, E 177 07.282
MT AO 1 Ed's Diner, Ahau--Malhaha - outer slope S 12 29.538, E 177 02.770
MT MA 1 RHS-Elsee, Malhaha - outer slope S 12 28.595, E 177 04.476
NIT 10 1 Jelly fish, Ahau-Fataito'a Pt. - outer slope S 12 29.775, E 177 02.557
MT MO 1 Rambo Reef, Motusa - outer slope  

Table 2. Hard coral, dead coral and soft coral score for manta tows in Rotuma.

Site Code
Live Coral
Dead Coral
Soft Coral
General Features
Reef slope
MT I0 1
Reef slope, grooves


Reef slope
Reef slope, channels
Steep reef slope

The manta tow data reflects area surveyed as having relatively fair, percentage live coral cover. There was no soft coral cover noted during the manta tows at areas highlighted. Seagrass meadows found at Motusa Bay.

LäjeRotuma assists

  • Coral Reef Survey Training -David Solomone (volunteer), LäjeRotuma sponsored his diving insurance, $200FJD.
  • First Aid Training - 2 PLA Community trainers acquired their Basic First Aid Certificates with Fiji Red Cross.

Finance LäjeRotuma Income & Expenditure Statement for 2002


World Wide Fund for Nature-SPP, Fiji


PADI AWARE Foundation


PADI Foundation


Suva 7-Districts Committee


Alan Howard & Jan Rensel


IOI - Pacific Islands


Interest Earned

Total Income

Training of Island Youth


Air Fiji Travel


Primary Poster Program


Fuel & Lantern


Rotuma Day Poster Display


Island Coastline Cleanup


High School Program


Training of Volunteers-Open Day


Dive Training-Coral Reef Survey


Final Consultation Trip (Community Outreach)



Total Expenditure
Remaining Balance
Less Bank Charges
Plus interest earned
Funds Remaining for 2003 PHASE 11


The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL)
Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN)
International Coral Reef Initiative
International Ocean Institute- Pacific Islands (IOI)
PADI Project AWARE Foundation
PADI Foundation
World Wide Fund for Nature, South Pacific
Rotuma Website- Alan Howard
Fiji Government- Mrs Marieta Rigamoto
Rotuma Island Council
Rotuma Health Inspector- Mr Henry Vafo'ou
District Officer-Rotuma, Mr Luke Moroivalu
Suva Rotuman 7-Districts Committee
Churchward Chapel Community
Nadi-Rotuman Community
Air Fiji
University of the South Pacific
MV Bulou ni Ceva
MV Cagi Mai Ba

Technical Assistance
Department of Environment, Fiji - Library Services
Lisette Wilson [WWF]
Johnson Seeto [MSP, USP]
Fiu Manueli [MSP, USP]
Mausio Ralifo, Lavenia Jiosefa [USP]
Susau Ralifo, Luisa Finiasi, Murray Isimeli

Läje Rotuma Contacts

1. Monifa Fiu (Coordinator) PO Box 10816, Laucala Beach Estate
2. Marseu Manueli (Island Coordinator) c/- Motusa Primary School, Rotuma.
3. Louise Isimeli (Assistant Coordinator) Tel:(679)3479304[H],
4. Mahlon Isimeli
5. Timaima Ratuki (Finance)
6. Nofaga Sakimi (Physics-Fuel Energy) PO Box 5037, Raiwaqa, Suva.
Tel: (679)3387607 [H]
7. Rupeni Mario (Energy-SOPAC) Tel: (679) 3381377 Ext.245
8. Sidney Malo (Marine Studies) Tel: (679) 9955425 [M],
3321231 [H],
9. Maniue Vilsoni c/- Marist Brothers High School
10. Freddy Tavokai
11. Elizabeth Erasito Tel: (679)3313519,
12. Lisette Wilson Tel: (679)3315533,
13. Alfred Ralifo PO Box 262, Nadroga Provinc. High School
14. Eric Rafai Medical Centre, Taveuni
15. Tukaha Mua
16. Pene Samisoni Tel: (679)3387689

PLA Trainers List:

1. Abel Camillo
2. Fesikato'a Isimeli
3. Ruth Isimeli
4. Kauata Fatiaki
5. Emi Tanu
6. Rosarine Rigamoto
7. Elenoa Rigamoto
8. leli Raki
9. Robert Rigamoto

Rotuma Youth Trainers Principal

1. Faga
2. Fauoro
3. James
4. Mareta
6. Varna
7. Hazel
8. Ilisapeti
9. Ritia

Volunteers List:

Luisa Antonio
Manueli Fiu
David Solomone
Anare Caucau

Rotuma Island Network:

District Officer
Health Inspector
Medical Officer


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