Entrepreneurial Project to Enhance Coral Reef Resilience, Community Nutrition and Sustainable Livelihoods through Crown-of-Thorns Starfish Control

B Greg Mitchell, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA, United States, Sefano Katz, Pacific Blue Foundation, Suva, Fiji, Margaret Vakalalabure Tabunakawai, Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network, Suva, Fiji and Litia Kirwin, Loving Islands, Suva, Fiji
Pacific Blue Foundation (PBF) and Loving Islands have partnered with Fiji’s Beqa Lagoon local communities and local NGOs including Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network, to conserve marine biodiversity while preserving traditional Fijian culture. Here we describe an entrepreneurial strategy to enhance coral reef resilience and community nutrition through Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (COTS) Control. The project manages COTS outbreaks by aggressive removal and aggregation in community organic composting sites. The removed COTS are mixed with organic household wastes, other vegetative matter, and seaweed to create organic fertilizer. Experimental plots managed entrepreneurially by the community have evaluated the merit of the organic fertilizer compared to no fertilizer and commercial inorganic fertilizer. The elemental composition of the COTS and the composted organic fertilizer will be determined. The organic fertilizer are used to support entrepreneurial vegetable garden livelihoods that create improved community nutrition and a source of income for produce sold to market. The goal will be to create a scientifically sound community-based COTS monitoring and management program that is scalable and transferable to any region threatened by COTS outbreaks and a sustainable entrepreneurial livelihood based on COTS as a component of organic fertilizer for community managed vegetable gardens. This project was funded by The Conservation, Food, & Health Foundation and Australian Aid.