The first-ever nationwide assessment of Fiji’s coral reefs has been successfully completed, covering 282 locations over a nine-week period.
Ministry of Fisheries Principal Fisheries Officer Saras Sharma says the historic collaboration between government ministries, the Waitt Institute, and a host of NGOs, communities, and international scientists aims to improve our understanding of our coral reef conditions and to better manage our ocean resources.
“This knowledge will also guide Fiji in determining the most impactful actions to support ocean health, food security, community livelihoods, and sustainable economic growth.”
Waitt Institute Director of Science Andy Estep says the objective of the nation-wide expedition is to garner answers about how much resources we have, whether they are protected, and whether there will be enough in the future.
“So we won’t have the answers now, but what we have established is a strong baseline across the entire country that is built on the work that is being done in the country.”
The expedition’s primary investigator and renowned marine academic, Dr. Joeli Veitayaki, says the information gathered will not only be used for scientific research but will also be readily available for qoliqoli and resource owners to make informed decisions.
“The bulk of our food, particularly for coastal dwellers, comes from the sea, and it is important that, as we enjoy these provisions from the ocean, we are mindful of their state.”
According to Dr. Veitayaki, the researchers will analyze the data from the expedition and share it with the public in the hope of making efforts to leave behind an ocean that is productive and healthy for future generations.