FIJI could have faced the loss of some of its fish species if protection of spawning aggregation sites had not taken place.
These were the sentiments expressed by Conservation International Fiji Marine Program manager Loraini Sivo.
She explained that spawning aggregation was a time when a group of fish formed for the purpose of mating an event also marked on traditional iTaukei calendars.
"This is a time when certain species of fish are in high concentration in certain areas, the males release their sperm and the female release their eggs which are fertilised in the sea and these then become larvae," she said.
Ms Sivo said because of the large numbers of fish and the traditional knowledge of spawning aggregation sites, many of these species were over-fished at this critical time.
"For some species, this is the only time they're able to reproduce and if you catch one fish during this time, you are also taking the thousands of eggs and sperm they carry," she said.
Ms Sivo said many sites where spawning aggregation took place had been identified , including critical sites in Vanuabalavu, Macuata, Kadavu and sites in the Yasawa Group.
"The worst case scenario if these sites were not protected was we would have lost populations of fish species from our reefs," she said.
"Fish that have been identified to use spawning aggregation to reproduce in include the grouper kawakawa, coral trout donu, surgeon fish balagi and rabbit fish nuqa."
Ms Sivo said a drop in numbers was already seen among the numbers of grouper and donu.