Survey finds drop in giant clam stocks

THE increased commercialisation of giant clams has also reduced its abundance and distribution in the lagoons around Vatuvara, Kaibu and Yacata islands in the northern Lau Group.

According to the results of the “Marine Biological Survey of Coral Reefs in the North Lau Groups” conducted by the Vatuvara Foundation and the Wildlife Conservation Society in May last year, the highest abundance of giant clams were found at Vatuvara Island.

Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society ,Dr Sangeeta Mangubhai, said the over-exploitation in the Lau Group over several years had affected its population.

Despite the low numbers of giant clams and sea cucumbers, the news on the coral and fish communities was more positive.

“This expedition identified several important conservation sites for protection based on the health of coral and fish communities,” the report said.

“Establishing a network of Marine Protected Areas in northern Lau should be a priority, in close partnership with the local community, to ensure the long-term protection of these valuable resources.

“The baseline information collected provides a biological benchmark useful to understand environmental changes and recovery rates for these unique reef systems.”

Dr Mangubhai said it was difficult to predict how long sites damaged by Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston would take to recover.

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