Stacy Jupiter, Marine Scientist
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Stacy Jupiter, Marine Scientist

October 12, 2019


In the Pacific people don’t separate
themselves from the environment, and so this is a natural place to be trying to
work with local people to be undertaking interventions and management that
improve public health, environmental health as part of overall system health. My name is Stacy Jupiter.
I’m a marine biologist. I live in Fiji, and I work in a
region called Melanesia. It is one of the most
biodiverse, rich places on the planet. What makes this place really unique
among the world is that indigenous people are stewards of the environment.
They have recognition within the constitution of all of these countries,
rights of indigenous people to the land and also rights to use
and access the sea. When I came to Fiji, I immediately got involved in an
ongoing project that was working with the ten communities of Kubulau district, to do
ecosystem based management. To really think about how do they want to manage
their forests, their waterways, the coastal areas and the downstream reefs –
all within the context of a single plan. And, so, this resulted in Fiji’s first
district level ridge-to-reef management plan, which then became a template that
we’ve subsequently rolled out to numerous districts all around the
country. One of the areas where I focus throughout my career is looking at how
people have done harvests from what’s called a tabu area which is fisheries
from which indigenous people periodically open it up to harvest for
some social event. We worked with the communities to schedule a time
when they would be harvesting their fish resources and we did underwater surveys, both with
divers in the water but also using video surveys to record what was happening and
then recording all of the fish coming in. We coupled these field surveys with
fisheries models, bio-economic models to be able to project into the future what
would happen under different fishing scenarios. So, we’ve used these tools to
then develop these outputs, and then my job has been then to take these outputs
and figure out how best to communicate to local people, in ways that they
understand, to make the best decisions. In 2015, the United Nations
developed the Sustainable Development Goals. A lot of the work that I’ve been
involved with, has been trying to link what we do to these Sustainable
Development Goals, but also make sure that they’re recognizing that there are
many other different important aspects of human well-being that aren’t
necessarily well captured, like people’s connection to place,
people’s connection to the environment, people’s connection to each other,
how people depend on the environment for their mental health and
their spiritual health.

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