CANADA TAKES AN ACTIVE INTEREST IN PACIFIC'S MARINE

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CANADA-SOUTH PACIFIC OCEAN DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM (C-SPOD) Apia, Samoa

NEWS RELEASE February 9, 2001

ORNAMENTALS TRADE

Stakeholders with a vested interest in the future of Fiji's marine ornamentals industry are meeting with Marine Aquarium Council representatives today for a one-day consultation funded by the Canada-South Pacific Ocean Development (C-SPOD) Program.

The Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) is an international non-profit organization currently working with industry, hobbyists, and governments to develop a set of standards for the marine ornamentals trade. Their plan is to develop a certification and labeling system, so that an organism can be tracked from reef to retail, to ensure its health through responsible collection, handling, and transporting practices. In the Pacific, MAC is working through the South Pacific Forum Secretariat.

"We hope to get the whole range of stakeholders in Fiji informed about what certification is, how it contributes to the sustainability of the marine aquarium trade, and to build a consensus on that as a significant part of the future of the marine aquarium trade in Fiji," says Paul Holthus, executive director of MAC.

Marine ornamentals are fish, corals, other invertebrates, and live rock, which are sought after for home and large public aquariums. Fiji's marine ornamentals industry is worth an estimated F$ 20 million (US$ 9 million) annually in terms of export earnings, said Dr. Ken Cokanasiga, Fiji's deputy secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forests and ALTA, in a speech made earlier this week.

The Canada-South Pacific Ocean Development (C-SPOD) Program has taken an active role in helping to ensure the success of MAC in the Pacific by funding a regional coordinator based at the South Pacific Forum Secretariat, and by funding a series of national workshops. Fiji is the first to take place, with additional workshops planned for the Solomon Islands and the Cook Islands in the coming months. Later this year, MAC hopes to have a pilot project operational within the region.

Representatives from Fiji's aquarium industry, government representatives, NGOs, tourism industry representatives, and people who actually collect marine ornamentals from the reef are expected to be in attendance.

This project is part of the Canada-South Pacific Ocean Development (C-SPOD) Program, Phase II, which is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and coordinated by the South Pacific Forum Secretariat and LGL Limited, Canada.

C-SPOD projects are developed and implemented by the participating Regional Organizations, and are approved and managed by a Program Management Committee including CIDA, the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency, the South Pacific Forum Secretariat, the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, and The University of the South Pacific.

All C-SPOD projects will ensure equity and balanced benefits for all Pacific Islanders including children, women, and men.

For additional information: Naomi Johnson Media Relations Officer Canada-South Pacific Ocean Development (C-SPOD) naomisusanj@hotmail.com" target="_blank">Program naomisusanj@hotmail.com  or naomij@sprep.org.ws 

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