A $500,000 allocation has been set aside for the first year of a national initiative that aims to physically rehabilitate, restore and sustain reef ecosystems around the country.
The Reef Enrichment Initiative, launched yesterday by former permanent secretary for Fisheries and Forests and now Minister for Youth and Sport Commander Viliame Naupoto, aims to restock reefs around the country amid concern over coral degradation and marine pollution.
The $500,000 allocation from the national budget to the Fisheries Department kicks off the three-year initiative.
Speaking at the launch in Nukuvuto Grounds at Queen Victoria School in Tailevu, Cdr Naupoto said the initiative was an extension of the Fisheries and Forest Department's Plant A Million Trees campaign.
The initiative embraced a ridge to reef concept which was advocated globally and nationally as a tool to sustainable natural resource usage, he said.
He told the 700-strong crowd which included stakeholders, landowners and high school students from surrounding schools, the initiative articulated and demanded positive action to safeguard the biological and economic sustainability of Fiji's reefs ecosystem.
With a seamless connection between marine, freshwater and land ecosystems, the country has been called to action as stewards of coastal fisheries, Cdr Naupoto said.
"For a sustainable economy, we must pursue sustained economic growth from our fisheries sector to improve Gross Domestic Product contributions whilst protecting the integrity of the marine ecosystem to replenish itself," he said.