The evolution of environmental law, and in particular the emergence of the concept of sustainable development, has affected the approaches taken to natural resource management and conservation. Principles of sustainable development, including the integration of social, economic and environmental considerations, may 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 traditional 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 participatory adaptive management techniques. The LMMA Network operates throughout the South Pacific but has been particularly successful in the Fiji Islands where the knowledge, traditional practices and customary laws of its Indigenous population have been utilised to achieve positive social, developmental and environmental outcomes. The experience of the LMMAs may offer best practice guidance to many other countries facing similar challenges.