Story by Luke Rawalai; Sunday, November 26, 2017. Photo credit: Conservation International, Mark Erdmann, Gerry Allen.
A scientific survey in the Lau seascape discovered six new marine species endemic to the waters in the group.
Considered a new frontier for marine exploration, the Lau Group is one of Fiji’s five priority marine eco-regions.
In May 2017, Conservation International together with their partners explored waters in the Lau Group confirming the biodiversity leading to community leaders declaration of Navatu Reef as a new marine protected area.
In an interview during the Fiji Locally Marine Managed Areas annual general meeting on Friday, Lau chief Roko Josefa Cinavilakeba, traditionally referred to as the Roko Sau and who is the local director of Pacific Blue Foundation, said the initiative was one agreed to by the chiefs of Lau to conserve their waters for future generations.
“Following the research, we are aware that the fish species include those from the family of the coral dwarfgoby, sand goby, tripplefin, slopefish, dottyback and the dartfish,” Roko Josefa said.
“There were also some new species of corals found during this scientific research.
“For one thing, this new finds have opened the eyes of our chiefs on the possibilities out there in our waters and most importantly the need to safeguard these species.”
Roko Josefa said poaching was an issue greatly affecting their waters.
“Our people are feeling the brunt of these illegal activity as fish species are getting hard to locate,” he said.
“There are also plans by chiefs to tap into these new finds and market the Lau waters as a popular tourism diving spot.”
Meanwhile, FLAMMA’s executive Margaret Tabunakawai said the Lau seascape was also being identified as an area that would be part of Fiji’s commitment to the UN Ocean Conference.
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