June 4, 2024

Bathymetric Data & Marine Conservation in the Beqa Lagoon, Fiji

Written by: Meg Scribner


Global Mapper is valuable for viewing and analyzing bathymetric data because of its extensive list of supported file types, georeferencing capabilities, and terrain analysis tools. Bathymetric surveys provide vital information that informs decisions about marine environments. Tomer Ketter of Map the Gaps and SubMerge, and Sefano M Katz of the Pacific Blue Foundation’s Beqa Lagoon Initiative joined us on this episode of GEOTalks. They shared insights from a collaborative bathymetric survey they performed in the Beqa Lagoon in Fiji. The livelihood of Fiji’s people is tied to its land, waters, and the diverse ecosystem that thrives there. In the episode, Sefano explored the impact of accessible bathymetric data on marine conservation, social equity, and cultural integrity in Fiji.

About Beqa Lagoon

Fiji is an island nation and home to diverse ecosystems, robust seascapes, and a strong culture. Beqa Lagoon, largely unmapped before this survey, is a hub for biodiversity. While planning a submersible expedition in the lagoon, Tomer and SubMerge realized that the data for the expedition was outdated. The team required accurate bathymetric data of the lagoon for the expedition’s safety.

Map the Gaps, a nonprofit Tomer Ketter co-founded, joined the team to coordinate a bathymetric survey of Beqa Lagoon. Map the Gaps champions accessible seafloor data because of its value as a tool for marine conservation and social equity. The Map the Gaps team connected with Sefano M Katz, the Program Director of the Beqa Lagoon Initiative from the Pacific Blue Foundation. Together, they developed a plan that would benefit local efforts and capacity building. This plan required them to present the results — the bathymetric visualization and data — to the people of Fiji, including Indigenous communities, local stakeholders, governance systems, and especially the Beqa Lagoon Initiative.

The Impact of Accessible Data

This episode explores the impact of accessible bathymetric data on conservation and marine communities. Our guests tell us about the survey and how the data can make a positive impact on the development of socioeconomic and sociocultural efforts in Fiji’s lands and waters.

Bull shark swimming with a small school of fish (marine conservation)

Accessible data can enable social equity and enrich cultural integrity. In the episode, Sefano shares: “In many cases, unfortunately, research teams take data back home, and rarely do communities get to see what was done. One of the Pacific Blue Foundation’s mandates is that whatever is being done in the lagoon — within the waters or lands of the communities — is shared. They are a partner, and they are a part of the decision-making. That is critically important.” The Beqa Lagoon Initiative handles its multi-faceted efforts inclusively; they consider how these practices impact the lives of everyone and everything living in Fiji.

Connect with Map the Gaps and the Beqa Lagoon Initiative

Image of bathymetric survey team including the members of Conservation International, Fiji Hydrographic Service/Fiji Navy, Tomer, and Sefano.
Left to right: Roko Sau Josefa Cinavilakeba (Pacific Blue Foundation), Tomer Ketter (SUB-MERGE/Map the Gaps), Fiji Navy Hydrographer, Sefano Katz (Pacific Blue Foundation)

“It was important to have this presentation to enable the water community there to ask questions, criticize what we’re doing, and for them to understand what we are aiming to do, as well as what is it that we will be providing them along the way.” – Sefano M Katz

According to its website, Map the Gaps shares “Seafloor (bathymetric) data is crucial for empowering global conservation, exploration, research, and community initiatives… This is why we’re creating a global community of citizen scientists, explorers, and academics, like you, who are passionate and dedicated to helping map the gaps.”

To support Map the Gaps, you can connect with them:

According to its website, the Pacific Blue Foundation defines the Beqa Lagoon Initiative as “a collaborative program focused on facilitating nature-based solutions to alleviate poverty and enhance community development.” They further share that the initiative “enhances Beqa Lagoon’s natural and cultural systems and the livelihoods of the people that depend on them.”

To support the Beqa Lagoon Initiative, you can connect with the Pacific Blue Foundation:

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Learn more about SubMerge, Map the Gaps, and the Pacific Blue Foundation.

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