VILLAGERS of Galoa in Bua have raised their concerns over the collection of coral by a group of Chinese workers on board the bauxite mothership that anchors near the island to load bauxite.
Village headman Joseva Baleinasiga told a government team led by Minister for Transport Timoci Natuva that he had received reports from villagers about Chinese nationals collecting coral apart from loading bauxite from Nawailevu.
"We are concerned about our coral ecosystem and the damage that may be inflicted on the brittle marine ecosystem that supports majority of the life forms in the sea," said Mr Baleinasiga. "We depend on these corals that make up the reef for the protection of our shorelines from huge waves."
Divisional Fisheries officer North Gerald Billings said he had not received any report from the villagers.
However, he urged them to monitor the situation and report to the department if villagers saw no change.
Mr Baleinasiga also raised concerns regarding the silt build-up at Nakadrudru where villagers who travelled to Labasa or Nabouwalu were dropped off by boats. He said the silt, which was never there prior to bauxite mining, had shallowed the mouth of the village creek because of soil erosion during heavy rain.
Mr Baleinasiga said the mouth of the river needed to be dredged to let the water flow without hindrance.
Nawailevu Bauxite Mining manager Basilio Vanuaca denied the allegation saying he had not heard of the coral collection incident. He said if they knew of the situation, they would take necessary action.
Mr Vanuaca said during the consultation process with landowners over the bauxite mine, villagers had also raised this matter.
"But government officials present informed the meeting that it is their (government) duty to carry out dredging in the mouth of Nakadrudru River in Lekutu."
Mr Natuva advised the villagers to write to the Commissioner Northern's Office for assistance.