News and Activities

December 2019: Activity sum-up 2019 by Léa Riera

After her first field work phase of 3 months in Fiji and 4 months in New Caledonia, Léa will return to Montpellier in December to start her data analysis and prepare her next field work period (April-June 2020). During this time in the two countries, she has questioned the integration of conservation measures such as the protection of marine species and marine spaces in coastal fisheries management schemes. The modalities of collaborations between stakeholders from the conservation sector (international NGOs, donors, local associations, eco-tourism operators) and fisheries sectors (fishers, federations and managers) and their evolutions were investigated through interviews and observations. Léa also explored the influence of regional organisations and multilateral agreements on the design and implementation of local management policies related to coastal fisheries.

To do so, she was mainly anchored in Suva and Nouméa to discuss with the above-mentioned various regional, national and non-governmental institutions. This multi-scale comparison provided important perspectives on divergences and similarities occurring for two interrelated topics: (1) the scaling-up of management instruments (e.g. marine protected areas, species bans, size-regulations), and (2) the transformation of governance models through the construction of new coalitions of stakeholders involved in conservation and fisheries sectors. Secondly, Léa also explored two case studies (Kadavu in Fiji and Bourail in New Caledonia) where the establishment of protected areas on reef passages to protect fish resources and/or emblematic species offered parallel insights.

After the Christmas break and SOCPacific’s next project meeting in Bremen in January 2020,  Léa will analyse her 2019 data and prepare her second phase of field work (April-June 2020) during which she will deepen her multi-level investigations in both sites. The perception of fisheries regulations by resource-users will be her next focus. Lea’s research falls within SOCPacific’s second thematic area: a socio-political ecology perspective on interwoven fisheries and conservation issues within marine protected areas.

Ilot Casy, NC_LR

On the field (Ilot Casy) with Nature Wardens from South Province (New Caledonia)

October-November 2019: Two weeks of joint fieldwork in Nakasaleka District on Kadavu Island, Fiji

This fieldwork period was jointly planned with a team from USP’s Institute of Marine Resources (IMR; Dr. Simon Harding and RA Kalisiana Marama, Western Pacific Coastal Fisheries Project (WPCFP),, and our co-supervised intern Ulamila Matairakula, who has joined SOCPacific for 6 months (Sept 2019 – Feb 2020). In fact, this means that we tried to combine two project activities during this trip: 1) a Marine Resource Value (MRV) survey designed and conducted by IMR to explore the economic value of coastal fisheries in Kadavu, with 2) SOCPacific’s fieldwork on the sociocultural value of these fisheries and on the interwoven fisheries and conservation issues.

A good correspondence with the Kadavu Provincial Office resulted in the chance of being accompanied throughout the fieldwork in Nakasaleka District by Alipate Nakasava (Assistant Roko Tui of Kadavu) and Kelera Kuli (Conservation Officer) from the Provincial Office in Vunisea. In this District, the team was based in three villages: Matasawalevu, Kavala, and Lomanikoro.

Elodie and Annette, often accompanied by Ulamila, conducted qualitative interviews and observations in Matasawalevu (in direct proximity of the Naiqoro Passage Spawning Aggregation Marine Reserve, established in November 2018) and Kavala (in the same bay as the Fisheries station, as well as where the ferry from the capital arrives twice a week). These were in the format of talanoa sessions with various community members in both formal and informal settings, with the least disruption to their planned events and daily activities (e.g., while preparing fish). The interviews covered several topics, such as local fishing methods, the connections between local fisheries management and culturally significant fishes, and changes since the establishment of this gazetted marine protected area). The IMR team visited 12 villages in Nakasaleka District (Matasawalevu, Nukuvou, Vacalea, Tiliva, Lavidi, Kavala, Solotavui, Lawaki, Lomanikoro, Nakaugasele, Nakaunakoro, Nakoronawa) and a few settlements for the MRV survey, based on questionnaires about fishing and gleaning activities.

In addition, the team organized drawing sessions in two primary schools, Tiliva District School and Nakasaleka District School, following the transdisciplinary protocol mentioned below, aiming to explore the views of school communities on the sea and the resources therein. The activity involved children from Class 4 to Class 8, and was facilitated by the head teachers and teachers of the respective schools, who we would like to warmly thank for their welcome and assistance.

This joint fieldtrip allowed for the reinforcement of the SOCPacific’s partnership with USP, in particular with IMR. It aimed to establish interdisciplinary links between SOCPacific and WPCFP, to be pursued in 2020 with the cross-analysis of the data we have collected and the feedback we will provide to the people of Nakasaleka District.

We are deeply grateful for the hospitality the team has received in Nakasaleka District, and for being allowed to learn a lot.


September-October 2019: A month of fieldwork on Cicia Island, Lau Province, Fiji

Elodie Fache, Simonne Pauwels and Mere Veitayaki spent one month on Cicia from the 24th of September until the 22nd of October 2019. Cicia has been chosen as a research site for SOCPacific as it is the first certified organic island in the South Pacific, and it therefore represents a particularly interesting case study in terms of the ridge-to-reef management approach. The team members organized individual and group talanoa (discussion) sessions about several topics, such as local fishing methods, the connections between local fisheries management and organic farming efforts, culturally significant fishes, virgin coconut oil production, daily life, and changes since the settlement on the island. In addition, they organized drawing sessions in two primary schools, Cicia District School and Mabula District School, following the transdisciplinary protocol mentioned below. The activity involved children from Class 5 to Class 8, and some preliminary findings of the comparative study of children’s views of the sea and the resources therein were given to the students afterwards. In parallel, the team immediately responded to the invitation of the principal of the island’s high school (Cicia High School) to give two presentations focused on the work and personal experiences of being a researcher. We are deeply grateful for the welcome the team has received on Cicia, and for being allowed to learn a lot.


Drawing session in Cicia District School, Tarukua Village, Cicia Island


Group photo after the drawing session in Cicia District School

September 2019: Participatory activity in Navesi Primary School, Lami, Fiji

In September 2019, Simonne Pauwels, Elodie Fache and Ulamila Matairakula organized a drawing session in Navesi Primary School (Lami, Fiji), following a transdisciplinary protocol developed mid-2019 and approved by the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts, and the Fiji Teacher’s Registration Authority. This activity involved children from Class 5 to Class 8. We were particularly touched by the kindness and cooperation of the teaching team as well as by the enthusiasm of the students. The drawings we collected, made by children living in an urban context, represent a valuable addition to the project.


Drawing session in Navesi Primary School, Lami, Fiji

June 2019: Participation in the 10th People & the Sea Conference and third team meeting

Part of the core team of SOCPacific have just participated in the 10th People & the Sea Conference organized by the Centre for Maritime Research (MARE) in Amsterdam during the last week of June ( The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Learning from the past, imagining the future’. We organized a panel related to SOCPacific, on ‘Perceptions and values of marine resources and their uses in relation to conservation and management areas, practices and target species’. This allowed for stimulating exchanges between team members as well as with other participants and attendees.

This conference also gave us the opportunity to organize a SOCPacific coordination meeting, during which we mainly discussed the last developments within the project and the joint fieldwork periods that will be conducted later on this year and early next year.

May 2019: Arrival of the project’s two PhDs in Fiji

Lea and Juliette arrived in Fiji in May to undertake fieldwork for their PhD research. They are currently based in Suva, making first connections with researchers from the University of South Pacific, the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network (FLMMA), a few NGOs, and the fisheries industry. Short after their arrival, they presented their research projects to the French Ambassador in Fiji, Mr. Sujiro Seam, who kindly offered his support. They also undertook a short trip to Gau Island along with Joeli Veitayaki, Annette Breckwoldt and Michael Fink.

Juliette has started focusing on tuna fisheries and their evolution throughout the years. More specifically, she aims to study (1) how data related to these fisheries is produced in the context of an increasing use of novel technologies (for instance, remote sensing), (2) how these data circulate between and are used by fishers, scientists, marine resource managers and policy-makers (for instance, to fight Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing), and (3) how these processes affect the practices of these different categories of stakeholders.

Lea intends to explore the (dis)articulations between different fisheries management and marine conservation approaches and their influence on local practices, norms and values around coastal fisheries. To do so, she will in particular explore the seasonal fishing ban on groupers and coral trouts (kawakawa and donu), which results from a campaign focused on sustainable fish stocks and openly inspired by international biodiversity conservation strategies. She also plans to study the current development of direct agreements and partnerships between tourism operators and local communities over resource conservation and fish supply.


Short trip to Gau Island, Fiji

February 2019: SOCPacific Research Note online

A research note on the SOCPacific project is now available in the online version of the journal Pacific Geographies:

Introduction to Research Project SOCPacific: A Sea of Connections: An interdisciplinary, multi-level and multi-stakeholder study of South Pacific fisheries

February 2019: The internship of Denis Karcher in Montpellier is coming to an end

From December 2018 to February 2019, Denis Karcher joined the SOCPacific working group based in Montpellier (IRD, GRED). His internship involved an extensive literature and policy review with the objective to provide a multi-level overview of the complex and ever-changing South Pacific fisheries management framework (to be later refined thanks to the data collected during the team members’ fieldwork periods). This review, conducted in close collaboration with both French and German team members, was articulated around three main questions:

  1. In which fisheries management related organizations are Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu (core geographical focus of SOCPacific) involved?
  2. How (dis-)connected are the various fisheries management policies and strategies applied to the South Pacific region, and specifically to these three study areas?
  3. Which recent trends can be observed in the South Pacific fisheries management framework and related policies and strategies?

Results of this review were presented at GRED’s internal seminar (‘Mardis du GRED’) and will be presented at The Future Oceans2 IMBeR Open Science Conference in Brest in June 2019 ( A condensation of Denis’ work towards a Journal article is also in progress and supported by several project members and partners.

February 2019: First visit of SOCPacific’s PhDs to winterly Bremen

From the 11th to the 14th of February, SOCPacific’s two PhD students, Juliette Kon Kam King and Léa Riera, went to Bremen to meet and work with their co-supervisor Marion Glaser and project leader Annette Breckwoldt. This stay was a chance for both to receive further feedback on their PhD projects and to adjust these before submission for their enrolment at Bremen University as part of a cotutelle program with the University Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3. During this stay, they also had the opportunity to obtain valuable information from Annette regarding their upcoming fieldwork in the Pacific, which will start in May. Last but not least, Juliette and Lea were introduced to ZMT’s researchers during the institute’s weekly palaver and thus also benefited from the opportunity to meet some of them and have a few introductory discussions about ongoing research projects. This visit allowed both students to lay the first foundations of their forthcoming stay, as they will spend the last year of their PhD in Bremen (2020-2021). Finally, they also met with Xochitl Elias, one of the two SOCPacific’s interns working on offshore fisheries in the project’s three study areas (New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji).

December 2018: ESfO Conference participation and second team meeting

Eight members of SOCPacific’s core team participated in the European Society for Oceanists (ESfO) 2018 Conference in Cambridge (UK). The main theme of this conference was ‘Dealing with inequality: Pacific perspectives, Pacific futures’. The team was involved in several panels, in particular one entitled ‘Decolonizing or closing maritime frontiers: Resistance and reappropriation in the Pacific Ocean’, and two dealing with climate change. This conference also gave us the opportunity to organize a SOCPacific coordination meeting, which was particularly important for the project’s two PhDs Juliette and Léa, who received feedback on their thesis proposals.

October-November 2018: Fieldwork on Gau Island, Fiji

In late 2018, Elodie Fache conducted one month of fieldwork on Gau, Fiji’s fifth biggest island, where she had already spent more than four months in 2016. This fieldwork focused on two thematic areas of SOCPacific: (1) the social values of places and resources in connection with offshore and inshore fisheries; (2) the connections and tensions between fishing and conservation interests and practices, in particular within marine managed and protected areas. Thanks to all the people of Gau who so warmly and generously welcomed Elodie and shared with her their daily life, knowledge and perspectives.

Entrance Malawai Village

The entrance to Malawai village, Gau Island, Fiji

October 2018: SOCPacific roundtables for project adjustments and discussions

On her first journey as part of SOCPacific, Elodie Fache spent two months in Fiji in late 2018. She met representatives of various organizations and institutions based in Suva, in order to discuss the project’s necessary adjustments as well as its possible alignment with existing activities and programmes already carried out and/or planned in the region. Interested representatives joined from the Fiji Locally Managed Area (FLMMA) network, the University of the South Pacific (USP), several NGOs, and the EU Delegation for the Pacific. A heartfelt vinaka vakalevu to all those who accepted our invitation and provided their critical feedback and inputs!

Talanoa Session FLMMA

Talanoa session in FLMMA’s office

June 2018: Launch of SOCPacific

A two-day, intensive kick-off workshop gathered most of the project’s core team in Montpellier in June 2018. This workshop had three main aims: 1. getting the team together in person, most of the members actually met for the first time and could finally put faces to the names; 2. update and critically discuss the initial proposal objectives, their relevance and feasibility within the given financial frame and timeline; and 3. pave the way for straightforward, synergistic and fruitful collaborations throughout the project. It allowed convivial, inspiring and productive exchanges that set the stage well for the implementation of the project’s work programme.

Thank you, Tom Vierus (@ for these amazing photographs, which we are proud to use for SOCPacific!

Fishermen in the Solomon Islands