THE nine contestants vying for the 2013 University of Fiji Sugar Festival crown got to learn about how sustainable marine industries contributed to the economic wellbeing of locals.
This was when they visited Walt Smith International Limited, an aquarium that produces fish and live rock for export, in Lautoka yesterday.
According to the assistant livestock manager Ashna Sundar, the contestants witnessed first-hand the processes involved in exporting live fish and live rock.
"We all know that tourism is a major part of our lives here and learning about sustainability and the environment is great, especially for these young ladies," Ms Sundar said.
"Having them here is a boost for us and also for them because this is not something they usually do."
The contestants also saw the different species of coral, starfish and fish used for export purposes.
"We also get the live coral and invertebrates, like snails and starfish, from a village in Sigatoka.
"We then try to get these organisms adjusted in their new environments here before they are exported."
Miss Time Electric Seruwaia Navukitu said the trip was informative for her because it was the first time she had visited such a facility.
"It was particularly interesting for me to see all the different sea creatures that are here," she said.
Miss Navukitu also mentioned the importance of learning environment-friendly practices to ensure sustainability.
Apart from the contestants visiting Walt Smith, 47 tiny tots from Ba Muslim Primary School kindergarten also toured the marine export facility.
Teacher in charge Yasmeen Sabir said the trip was part of an Early Childhood Education program and it focused on bringing togetherness between parents and children.