MANAGEMENT OF FIJI’S LUCRATIVE CORAL TRADE UP FOR DISCUSSION AT CANADIAN FUNDED WORKSHOP

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SOUTH PACIFIC REGIONAL ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME (SPREP) Apia, Samoa

PRESS RELEASE April 25, 2002 Nadi, Fiji Islands

MANAGEMENT OF FIJI’S LUCRATIVE CORAL TRADE UP FOR DISCUSSION AT CANADIAN FUNDED WORKSHOP

How best to preserve and enhance management of Fiji’s coral trade was the subject of an intensive workshop held this week in Nadi. The workshop was funded by the Canada South Pacific Ocean Development (C-SPOD) Programme and coordinated by the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP)

In opening the workshop Fiji’s Director of Fisheries, Mr. Maciu Lagibalavu, stressed the importance of Fiji meeting its obligations under the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which Fiji signed in 1997. He noted that this was a significant step forward in helping Fiji to continue to trade in various species. Lagibalevu also noted it was because of the long-term benefits for Fiji and for Fiji’s reefs that the government became a party to the treaty in the first place.

Representatives from the Departments of Environment, Fisheries, Agriculture, Forestry, Customs and Quarantine, USP and the NGOs -- Foundation of the South Pacific (FSP), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and Traffic Oceania -- attended the workshop aimed at assisting Fiji to improve management of the coral trade in particular compliance with CITES requirements.

The workshop looked at the status of the trade in Fiji currently, the economic benefits Fiji enjoys from the trade, the current management systems that government has in place and the planned improvements in these systems. A major initiative is the introduction of new legislation which will give force to the CITES convention in Fiji. Fiji has been a party to CITES since 1997 but has not yet enacted legislation. This led to a recent ban by CITES on imports from Fiji of listed species. The ban was lifted as government demonstrated it was working towards this goal.

The workshop looked at the range of issues that the various departments need to take into account when they are dealing with the export of corals and related species. Attention was also focused on the technical information and skills that compliance officers (customs, fisheries, quarantine) will require and the processes that need to be put in place.

Workshop coordinator Mary Power (Coastal Management Adviser, SPREP) was pleased with the outcomes of the workshop.

"It is terrific to see people coming together from so many government departments responsible for certifying exports of coral reef products. I think we have increased the understanding of the complexity of this industry and its importance. As a result there are now more government staff who are proficient in identifying the various corals that are exported from Fiji."

This workshop is another critical step forward in helping to create systems and train people who can manage this important trade. The outcomes will help ensure compliance with CITES requirements and help utilize Fiji’s reefs in a sustainable manner for the benefit of both industry and the local communities.

C-SPOD is Canada’s major regional commitment to the Pacific islands, worth more than $28-million over 14 years. Canadian funding is supporting regional projects that include turtle conservation, graduate student scholarships, sustainable management of the tuna fishery, and certification for the marine ornamentals trade. C-SPOD is funded by CIDA and is coordinated by the Forum Secretariat and LGL Ltd.

For more information about C-SPOD go to www.c-spodp.org or contact: Laura Palmer Media Relations Officer Canada South Pacific Ocean Development (C-SPOD) Program, Forum Secretariat Private Mail Bag, Suva, Fiji Tel: (679) 3312-600, 3220 357 Fax: (679) 3312-696 E-mail: LauraP@forumsec.org.fj 

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