Future-focused Coral Counting

A Nationwide Coral Reef Census

In an effort to determine the health status of Fiji’s precious coral reefs, a nationwide census is being conducted by researchers and conservationists. This initiative, the first of its kind in the country, aims to gather critical data necessary for the conservation and restoration of these fragile marine ecosystems.

The Project Partners and Their Roles

This major undertaking involves a partnership between local and international organizations. The leader of operations is the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They are working together with University of California Santa Barbara, WWF Pacific and Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries and Forests.

WWF’s Pacific marine species officer, Alfred Ralifo, explained that their role revolves around delivering vital information about the condition of Fiji’s coral reefs to various stakeholders, particularly the government. The team aims to ensure that Fiji’s coral reefs are within sustainable limits and continue being a primary source of income and food for families and communities that rely on them.

It is worth noting that the University of California Santa Barbara is working on the development of a sophisticated data management system that will help in the collection and processing of information.

Data Collection Method

The data collection process is being conducted through an underwater visual census. Divers from the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area (FLMMA) network are undergoing training in identifying and recording various coral species. They will be equipped with global positioning system (GPS) units, and will be taking a series of underwater pictures of the coral reefs. These images will then be analysed by expert marine biologists.

The Importance of Coral Reefs and The Census

Coral reefs play a crucial role in the environment. They support a huge variety of marine life, act as natural barriers against wave erosion, contribute extensively to local economies through tourism, and serve as a significant source of food and livelihood for people who live along the coasts.

The insights derived from the coral reef census will be vital for making informed decisions related to their destruction and the best methods for their conservation.

The Future of Coral Reefs in Fiji

With the aid of the coral reef census, the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests, along with other local and international partners, wishes to implement effective conservation strategies to preserve Fiji’s coral reefs for future generations. They hope to curb any destructive effects and reverse the trend of coral reef degradation, as these impacts not only affect marine life but also the Fijian communities who rely on these ecosystems for their survival.

Source: https://www.fijitimes.com.fj/coral-counting-for-the-future/

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