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GIS, coastal resource, benthic cover, Fiji, WorldView-2, satellite imagery

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In Fiji, like most Pacific Island countries, there have been numerous reports of degradation of coastal resources, including adverse changes in abundance and stock distribution of numerous aquatic species associated with the coastal habitat. To develop effective management plans, assessment of existing coastal resources is pertinent. High spatial resolution satellite imagery, combined with geographic information systems allow for efficient and synoptic mapping of coastal resources to provide a baseline for developing effective and improved management plans. The purpose of this study was to develop a baseline habitat map of the intertidal benthic cover in Komave Village, Coral Coast, Sigatoka, Fiji. Resource mapping was based on high resolution (2 m) WorldView-2 imagery. Ground-truthing was attained by means of on-site data logging of the intertidal resources, image capturing and GPS recording. Based on these records, the benthic cover was classified into seven classes: ‘coral,’ ‘algae,’ ‘brown algae,’ ‘volcanic rocks,’ ‘sand and gravel,’ ‘sea grass,’ and ‘bare.’ Ground referencing points were randomly assigned for either supervised classification training or accuracy assessment. A community participatory research approach was used to conduct interviews to assimilate information on fishing sites and coastal land use activities. This exercise explored the social-ecological approach in natural resource management and how it can become an important tool in coastal conservation practices. The coastal resource map generated through this study serves as a baseline for monitoring the status and spatial distribution of the coastal resources in Komave. Annual mapping of the resources and enrichment of maps along with iterative village consultation will enable managers to develop and gauge the effectiveness of coastal management plans. This high resolution map is particularly relevant to Fiji as it is the first of its kind for the country. This work also serves to reduce the global information gap of coastal resource status for Fiji.

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Frontiers in Marine Science, v. 6, art. 207