Great Sea Reef generates $16m

Laitia Tamata of WWF South Pacific and Laitia of University of South Pacific dives and conduct transect of the Great Sea Reefs.

Laitia Tamata of WWF South Pacific and Laitia of University of South Pacific dives and conduct transect of the Great Sea Reefs.

As the world’s third longest continuous barrier reef system, the Great Sea Reef or Cakaulevu located off the Northern coast of Vanua Levu contributes about $12 to $16 million annually to Fiji’s economy through its inshore fisheries.

Speaking during the launch of the Wetlands Policy on the Conservation and Management of Fiji’s Coral Reefs last Friday, Minister for Environment Dr Mahendra Reddy said the reef system supplied about 80 per cent of fish for the domestic markets.

Dr Reddy said this was directly responsible for the subsistence and income livelihoods of one-tenth of Fiji’s population.

“The Great Sea Reef is home to 55 per cent of the known coral reef fish in Fiji and 44 per cent of known endemic reef fish in Fiji, including 74 per cent of the known corals found in Fiji,” he said.

“These reefs contribute immensely to our people’s livelihood, food source, cultural values, and our nation’s economy.

“They play an essential role in protecting our coastal and marine environment from the devastating effects of climate change.”

Dr Reddy revealed that his ministry would designate two additional Ramsar conservation sites in the next two years, of which one is expected to include a coral reef ecosystem.

While addressing the people of Mali district on the island of Vorovoro, whose traditional fishing grounds are part of the Macuata Qoliqoli Cokovata covering the districts of Dreketi, Macuata, Sasa and Mali, Dr Reddy said they had a lot of responsibilities in their hands to protect their reef system.

Dr Reddy also shared with villagers his ministry’s duty in enforcing the Endangered and Protected Species Act 2002 which regulated and controlled the international trade, domestic trade, possession and transportation of species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and for related matters.

“This law is particularly important as it regulates a number of coral species that Fiji is trading with European countries and the USA as our main markets in coral export,” he said.

“There are altogether 55 species regulated under the Endangered and Protected Species Act.”

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