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Call to protect coral reefs

Lice Movono
Friday, January 19, 2018

FIJI's coral reefs are a beautiful world of amazing biodiversity but part of it is dying at a rate that could mean that this generation might be the last to witness its colourful features.

Diving at the Great Sea Reef off the coast of Macuata on Wednesday, Fiji's permanent representative of the United Nations, Peter Thomson called on the world to protect coral reefs.

Mr Thomson, who was last year appointed UN special envoy on oceans, went diving along a portion of the GSR which was on Tuesday nominated by Cabinet to become a Ramsar-approved Site (A Ramsar Site is a wetland site designated of international importance under the Ramsar Convention).

"There was enough to see that the reef is recovering well from its recent bleaching. There is beautiful coral down there, hundreds of varieties and colours. The sea life good size fish is very encouraging," Mr Thomson said.

"I was praying that after all this rain that we would get some beautiful weather and look at this beautiful sunshine. There is also a great protective barrier of Fiji here and it is also a bunker of biodiversity in Fiji."

WWF Pacific, which works with the fish basket (qoliqoli) owners of the Great Sea Reef for its conservation, chose Mr Thomson to become a champion and advocate for the GSR to raise its international profile.

The role means Mr Thomson will in part advocate and raise awareness and also raise money needed to finance the conservation needs of the structure, which covers more than 260 kilometres of ocean.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, who officially launched the International Year of the Reef (IYOR) after Mr Thomson's dive expedition said, the conservation of the GSR was a critical priority so it nominated that part of the GSR be protected under the Ramsar Convention on wetlands.

"It's a shocking fact that our generation could be the last to witness the beauty of our reefs," PM Bainimarama said.

"It is an important day for Fiji to formally launch the IYOR 2018. Thank you for the honour of choosing Fiji to highlight the state of the world's reefs. This has particular resonance for the Fijian people because of where we are today, we are on the edge of one of the most precious natural assets."

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