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Reef health report

Luke Rawalai
Friday, June 20, 2014

WWF South Pacific will soon release a report on reef health within a portion of the largest marine protected area (MPA) in Fiji, the Qoliqoli Cokavata of Macuata.

In a statement, survey team leader Alfred Ralifo said the report would indicate the direct effect of MPAs on the life of the coral ecosystem.

He said the marine biological monitoring survey commenced with dives into qoliqoli waters of Mali district, which made up a portion of the 1344km2 fishing grounds collectively owned by four districts — Mali, Dreketi, Sasa and Macuata.

"On the invitation of the late Tui Macuata Ratu Aisea Katonivere in 2005, WWF South Pacific has engaged the four districts by assisting and guiding the set-up of marine protected areas," Mr Ralifo said.

"Marine protected areas in this province were set up to support the protection of the Great Sea Reef, an important barrier reef system that is bedrock for Fiji's fishing industry, tourism activities and an important biodiversity focus area for WWF."

Mr Ralifo said the scope of this survey did not cover the entire expanse but rather focused on four fringing reefs — Vuata, Sese, Deladravu and Bulewa Vula, near Mali Island.

"It is the first time such a survey has been held and similar ones are planned for other reef systems within the Qoliqoli Cokovata of Macuata.

"The survey is a component of a project attempting to pilot qoliqoli (traditional fishing ground) management at the district level as opposed to the previous four district level.

"The survey team observed reef health indicators for example coral reef abundance, coral cover, fish and invertebrates' diversity and abundance, including other marine creatures and fish sizes as well.

"Data collected this time would be measured against statistics from 2006 to provide a comparative analysis of reef health then and now."

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