Taveuni resort owners, dive operators and marine experts are coming together to stop a project they say will cause irreversible destruction to marine life and create a dangerous precedent in Fiji.
The project, which involves the construction of new surf waves at Maqai in Qamea will see the modification of existing reef to create high quality waves for surfing.
Taveuni Tourism Association President, Teri Gortan says they strongly oppose the proposed project.
Gortan says this sort of publicity could negatively affect Fijian tourism when businesses are already struggling.
He adds there is a huge amount of supporting evidence showing that many of these projects have failed around the world and they do not want something that is untested and unwanted in our waters.
“A negative impact on the natural beauty of Taveuni and its marine eco-system will also weaken Fiji’s rating as one of the top 10 dive destinations in the world. Even is the project succeeded, the increase in surf tourists in this particular area could not compensate the decline in tourists for the rest of Taveuni and nearby destinations. A failed project with the associated negative publicity would be a threat to our tourism industry.”
The Association, which consists of 50 plus resorts and business owners on Taveuni, Qamea and Matagi, say the proposed project will remove healthy coral, change the eco-system, impact adjoining reefs and threaten the livelihoods of tourism in the Northern Division.
The project is being undertaken by World Wave Project with the help of Maqai Eco Surf Resort Director Dr Shaw Meads.
WWP says they aim to disturb as little marine life as possible by focusing on identifying suitable sites that are of relatively low ecological value.
WWP wants to create 3-5 prototype waves and will be using advanced construction techniques utilizing underwater drivers, excavators and rock crackling compounds to make modifications to the depth, contours and angle of the reef.