Fiji is strategically working towards becoming the best sustainably managed fisheries in the Pacific region, as “80 percent of fish feeding the urban population is currently sourced from the Great Sea Reef.”
To better inform stakeholders on the health of the Southern Hemispheres third longest continuous reef system, the Status and trends of coral reefs and associated coastal habitats in Fiji’s Great Sea Reef (GSR) report was launched Thursday by the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Fisheries Pene Baleinabuli.
“The system is significant to Fiji not only for its biodiversity but also due to its contribution to coastal community food security; income derived from the domestic fisheries sector and ecosystem services such as coastal protection. To put things into perspective, it is estimated that close to 80 percent of fish feeding the greater Suva’s urban population is currently sourced from the Great Sea Reef. We that live in Suva might never actually see or visit the Great Sea Reef however this dependence on it for food emphasises its importance,” he said.
The Great Sea Reef was highlighted as one of four priority seascapes commitment by the Fijian government in 2017 at the United Nations Oceans Conference. In December of 2019, Fiji further committed to develop and adopt an Oceans Policy to sustainably manage 100 percent of its EEZ, and meet its 30 percent MPA commitment by 2030.
“At the global level, scientists have also highlighted the significance of the Great Sea Reef in the context of Climate Change. Research has shown that some reefs are less exposed and vulnerable to climate change impacts. Almost 70% of climate-resilient coral reefs are found in just seven countries and one of them being Fiji, located on the northern section of the Great Sea Reef. Linked by ocean currents which transport coral larvae and fish, scientists suggest that these refuges of resilience could act as source reefs from which the world’s corals can regenerate in the future,” Baleinabuli said.
He added that in line with Fiji’s Target by 2030 and as part of the Ministries Strategic Development Plan 2019-2029, The Ministry of Fisheries is strategically working towards becoming the best sustainably managed fisheries in the Pacific region.
“Under our indicators for critical success, “research and development” is key where applying science, data management and research, my Ministry believes will help us make the most informed decisions regarding the management of our fisheries,” he said.
WWF’s Pacific Director, Dr Mark Drew, said, “This recent analysis adds considerable weight to the case for ocean conservation to be an even higher priority for GSR communities. We have seen good commitments in the past but the objective analysis shows that we are running out of time and need action at a much greater scale and urgency if the GSR is to have a healthy and prosperous future.”
This story was originally published at WWF Pacific on 21 April 2022.