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Changes, climate 'lead to poisoning'

Simione Haravanua
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

CHANGES in the marine ecosystem and fish poisoning are the result of climate change in Fiji and the South Pacific.

These were two of the many issues discussed at the Symposium on Future International Co-operation and Human Resource Development in Marine Science and Fisheries held at the USP's Japan-Pacific ICT Centre.

The head of School of Applied Science at the Fiji National University, Dr Jimaima Lako, elaborated on some of the ways that our marine ecosystem and fish poisoning happen.

"According to the research that we have done, we have managed to find four species of algae that carry the toxins and one of the basic ones is basically related to ciguatera fish poisoning," she said.

"This tells us the changing environmental conditions that is happening and especially this kind of algae grows well in warm waters.

"When the temperature rises from 29 to 30 degrees the algae grows well.

"If this algae is scattered around our reefs then basically the increase in fish poisoning is going to occur, particularly in rural and coastal communities," she said.

"The rise in temperature increases the density of the algae that carries the toxins. Climate change has contributed to the rise of this algae, causing fish poisoning in and around the South Pacific and Fiji."

Dr Lako added that the solution was basically by the way we treat our land.

"What sort of pollution that happens from our lands will basically affect what grows on the reefs," she said.

"Studies have been carried out on coral bleaching. When coral starts to die out this basic algae starts to colonise and grow on this dead coral, all these are connected."

Meanwhile, a district in Kadavu has been identified by researchers as having one of the dangerous reefs that have poisoned fish.

"We have identified three sites that contain four different types of algae in Kadavu," she said

"We have received information that the reef at Senimuna is confirmed to have fish that contains toxins from the reefs in that island and our job is to confirm whether what type of toxin is available in that particular reef."

Dr Lako raised the need to collaborate with stakeholders in Fiji and the world for facilities and equipment that could help stop uncontrolled changes to marine ecosystems and fish poisoning.

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