Suva, Oct 4 (IANS): The first-ever nationwide assessment of Fiji's coral reefs has been completed covering 282 locations in efforts to ensure the ocean is healthy for future generations, a Ministry of Fisheries official said on Wednesday.
Principal Fisheries Officer Saras Sharma said the collaboration between government ministries, the Waitt Institute, and a host of non-governmental organisations, communities, and international scientists aims to improve understanding of coral reef conditions and to better manage ocean resources, reports Xinhua news agency.
Waitt Institute Director of Science Andy Estep said the objective of the nationwide expedition is to garner answers about how much resources Fiji has, 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, Joeli Veitayaki, said the information gathered will not only be used for scientific research but will also be readily available for stakeholders 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," Veitayaki said.
Veitayaki said 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.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Fiji's marine resources and their services to the people are worth more than 2.5 billion Fijian dollars per year.