Protecting The Ocean

Concerns have been raised on the protection of our ocean. Covering 71% of the earths surface, the ocean provides some of the world’s most unique ecosystem one of which is the famous oldest underwater structure; Coral Reefs. The main objective of protecting the ocean is on the notice of preserving our coral reefs as they are frequently facing threats of extinction.
In a recent report, local newspaper reporter Manoj Kumar reported in The Fiji Times on Wednesday, the 23rd October, 2013 concerns being raised by a newly formed surf and boat riders club “The Vodo Ua Boardriders Club (VUBC)” who launched a Surfers Against Destruction (SAD Fiji) campaign fighting against the destruction and pollution of our reef and ocean.
In the report, VUBC committee member Ian Muller stressed the importance of protecting Gods precious given resource. As well as a source of food and playground for the club, Muller mentioned disappointment on some of the activities occurring around the area one of which is the operation of Cloud 9. He claimed some operators and people were anchoring their barge and boats on the world’s number one surf reef — Cloudbreak.
Muller said there were operators, locals and foreigners, who believed our reef and ocean “is a place where they can come to disrespect, destroy and pollute for their own gain”.
Referring to Cloud 9, he barked out anger on the pollution done by party maniacs who visit the floating bar and adding “…who knows what else with no regard to the destruction and pollution on the fragile environment”.
As a result of these activities, a notable event sighted by Muller was the occurrence of a bull shark in the area. Saying they are not common or are very rare to occur, Miller blames all the activities from the operation as the main factor. “This has never been seen before — bull sharks which have been attracted to the pollution in the water,” he said.
He concluded by saying that we could lose millions of dollars of investments if we do not look into the matter seriously. This is because Cloudbreak hosts a world surfing Fiji Pro event every year but with the issue of bull shark occurrence and maybe shark attack, all these fortunes could be lost.
A suggestion brought up by the club is for the government to validate the surf reef areas around Tavarua and Namotu as a National Marine Reserve. Seen as a wise technique, this policy when approved will assure the security and preservation of the coral reef system and the ocean of the famous Cloud break at Tavarua.
Finally, as a course of raising awareness, the Vodo Ua Boardriders Club will be hosting a SAD surf competition to promote conservative practices and safer activities.
(SOURCE: Fiji Times)

Endangered fish found in factory freezer

Fiji has a few endangered marine creatures that are in fear of extinction. Turtles are one endangered marine reptile species that has a very exclusive tie with the people of Fiji. However due to overfishing for commercial and consumption purposes, this unique creatures population has been on a verge of disappearance.
Another distinctive marine living being that is also on the verge of extinction is the famous Humphead Wrasse or Varivoce. Varivoce has been fished excessively in the Fiji waters and around the world over the years for commercial and consumption purposes. It has a very tasty rich flesh which is the main culprit of their harvest. This species of fish can grow up to 2 meters in length in its adult stage.
In one of the recent incidents, this rare species was discovered by a marine science student of the University of the South Pacific to be in a factory freezer. Speaking to Fiji Times, Sitiveni McLaren Lee said he discovered the rare findings while on an educational trip to the factory observing the freezers and tuna the factory exports to Japan.
He mentioned that he found some fish on the ground and with the knowledge of understanding about the endangered species he took pictures and thought to present it to USP curator of the Marine Collection Johnson Seeto for confirmation. Upon confirmation, acting director fisheries stressed out policies concerning the harvest of the Varivoce. Since it is illegal to harvest the species in Fiji, this happening has brought to light penalties of failing to comply with the requirements which he cited, an imprisonment for three months or to a five hundred dollars fine or both. And this could be enforced towards the company who owns the freezer.
However, police are investigating the matter because claims have came from the responsible company claiming they were not aware or had any understanding on the restrictions and current status of the species and that they had placed the two specimens found in the freezer for consumption and not for sale.
(SOURCE: Fiji Times)

Improvements for waste disposal

Waste disposal has been a major challenge in almost every part of the world. With the growing population, it raises concerns in heavily populated areas like Suva for instance for the authority to assure waste is properly disposed. Waste disposal has to be well looked after for the safety of every human being as well as animals.
The relationship between disposing waste and the effects it has to the environment is an important area of concern that needs to be observed. In the move to improve waste disposal in the ever growing populated city of Suva, the government has granted a budget allocation of a million dollar in the making of a new waste transfer station. This transfer station, to be established at Nasinu at the old quarry site is to cater for sorting out of wastes before it is taken to the Naboro landfill. This is considered as a step towards better recycling habits.
Moreover, an additional $3.4m has been allocated to boost the upgrading of the Naboro landfill and as well as the purchasing of new garbage trucks for Tavua and Levuka Town Council. These are some of the initiatives the government has taken in developing and assuring that important areas of our environments well being are well looked after.
(SOURCE: Fiji Times)

Coral reef protection

Like the endangered Humphead Wrasse, coral reefs are also facing problems of today modern world activities and are in danger of being lost forever. A major threat to coral reefs naturally is the effect of climate change. Climate change today is in a stage very different from decades ago with its effects directly distressing today’s human era.
Apart from rise in sea level which is one of the major effects affecting low lying islands here in the Pacific, coral reefs are also in danger from climate change. Being a major concern raised in a climate change workshop, the protection and conservation of this unique underwater God given structure is the key area every organisations need to gauge focus onto.
Speaking at the workshop in the launching of the Working Group I (WGI) Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, deputy secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Energy and also the chief guest Mr Malakai Tadulala, pointed out the need for the government to introduce and emphasize better policies that will protect our ocean and people from climate change impacts.
The main priority we should understand is that coral reef plays a huge role in the maintaining of our coastlines, as a source of food and is important in the tourism industry for our economy. Facing threats from human and natural activities, coral reefs health is fast deteriorating and with global warming continuing to develop, the impacts are enormous. If people are not advised on the importance or educated on ways they can help to protect coral reefs than we will surely lose them in few years to come.
Fiji was hit with three devastating floods from frequent occurrence of tropical cyclones for the last two years and the effects were greatly felt on tourist deserted destinations in Nadi, the Mamanucas and the Yasawas. Apart from the devastation done on land, coral reef systems around these areas were badly damaged. Coral reefs grow very slow and such situation like this can ruin the whole system and in today’s case, coral reef systems in the Mamanucas are on the stage of recovering back with the help of MES coral planting projects.
(SOURCE: Fiji Times)

Experts talk climate change

As an on going issue, effects of climate change is directly felt in most areas like the Pacific Islands and it seriously needs to be addressed. Many seminars have been organised to hold discussions among country’s and experts of climate change on the effects that has been occurring and also to come up with ways in which theses dilemma can be faced.
In a recent meeting organised by the University of the South Pacific, experts and government delegations from PICs gathered to talk on climate change. With the Pacific Islands being the focal point of attention, the workshop looked at the effects climate change imposes to these islands and their current status. Finding strategies to be implemented to face these issues was another important point discussed in the meeting. Since many PICs are directly affected for instance the island of Tuvalu, those who attended the workshop contributed ideas on reducing risks associated with climate change in the future. This is to combat threats and hardships that these small PICs are already facing.
Also attending the workshop, were five scientists from Australia and New Zealand who were also working on putting a report together.
(SOURCE: Fiji Times)

Tuna Fishing Worry

Overfishing is one of the major problems concerning our marine ecosystem nowadays. With international markets trying to meet demand of consumer’s everyday, the pressure is on fishing companies who are responsible to supply fish to these markets. The problem faced is the work of these fishing vessels on   ground level.
Directly to the west of Fiji is an area of the Pacific Ocean that has been a common fishing ground for these vessels from government owned fishing companies. In a recent comment by visiting Greenpeace Australia Pacific ocean campaigner Duncan Williams, he mentioned that too many fishing vessels are fishing for a few fish here in the region.
A common fish species that these vessels come hunting for is tuna. Tuna is one of the major fish upholding the success of many fishing economy around the world especially in developed countries. According to William, approximately an upward 3300 fishing vessels removed a record two million tonnes of tuna from the Pacific Ocean last year. Tuna demand is high in developed countries because of its delicacy and this is a major threats.
William urges the need to set down strict regulations on the harvest of tuna in our region. These regulations should look into ways of minimizing impacts by these fishing vessels to small PICs. Reducing the number of ships allowed to fish in the Pacific by certain criteria such as the ship’s environmental impact, energy consumption and working conditions can be some of the components of implementing such conventions.
Moreover, knowing that lack of resources is the main culprit behind the weak commitment of our local and regional governments, it is important that other alternatives are well discussed and selected to be used in order to fight this battle.
(SOURCE: Fiji Times)

Ocean campaigners compile fish report

A report based on tuna fishing in the Pacific has been launched this month by Greenpeace environment activists on board MV Esperanza. The report which was compiled over a nine week long observation period looks at details of fishing activities and license documents of those involved. This report is especially based on the area between Fiji and Vanuatu.
As a major project within the campaign, the report strongly deals with the Southern Pacific albacore fishery which is over-fished. Over the years a lot of license had been granted to applicants but less concern is granted on the species of fish that they harvest. International markets have been targeting the South sea stocks to meet the ever growing global demands and it has been impacting the area as a whole. The albacore fishery has been one of the major targets as well.
Part of the concerns is the unfair treatment that Fiji has been receiving from these foreign fishing companies. They noted that they have been taking much more than what they give. One of the major findings to support this statement is that many have been caught to be directly sending their catch out to their market without any revenue coming to the local economy.
As a matter of interest, all these findings being discussed in The Greenpeace report — Fewer boats, more fish: Towards comprehensive fishing capacity management in the Western and Central Pacific Tuna Fisheries — calls for the urgent introduction of capacity and effort management in tuna fisheries in the WCPO to protect tuna stocks, improve environmental performance generally and to contribute more to island states and local communities.
(SOURCE: Fiji Times)