Sustainable development goals of social, economic and environmental improvement can be easily identified, but appropriate methods to resolve the often conflicting issues remain elusive. The achievement of triple bottom line goals is problematic the world over, but particularly keenly felt in small island states with large indigenous populations and strong customary laws and practices. Top down legal approaches have been imposed with limited success and it has now been recognised that bottom up, community based, participatory mechanisms are preferable. The Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) Network is an example of a successful initiative involving communities in the protection of their local marine environment through the implementation of community based adaptive management techniques. The LMMA Network has been remarkably successful in the Fiji Islands where the knowledge, traditional practices and customary laws of its indigenous population have been utilised to achieve positive outcomes. LMMA implementation in Fiji has led to increased marine biodiversity and a corresponding reduction of poverty in areas where rural livelihoods depend on marine resources. Equally important, the LMMA process has improved community solidarity. The experience of the LMMAs may offer best practice guidance to many other countries facing similar challenges.