FIJI NEWS

THEFT OF CORAL CONCERN

By KERESI NAUWAKARAWA Poachers are now targeting live coral at the Namena Marine Reserve. This was revealed by the chief of Nadi village in Solevu, Bua, Tui Nadi, Ratu Peni
24 Dec 2011 07:16

Stacy Jupiter during the launch of the book titled ‘Ecotales from Kubulau’ in Suva. Photo: Sophie Ralulu

By KERESI NAUWAKARAWA

Poachers are now targeting live coral at the Namena Marine Reserve.
This was revealed by the chief of Nadi village in Solevu, Bua, Tui Nadi, Ratu Peni

Rasigare. Ratu Peni was in Suva this week for the launch of the book Ecotales from

Kubulau at the Wildlife Conservation Society on Thursday.
He said he had received reports of increasing coral thefts.
“I’ve been told of the live coral theft at our marine reserve at Namena and this is a

twist to the continuous poaching at the Namena Marine Reserve Park,” Ratu Peni said.
The poachers he said were after live coral because of the attractive market price.
According to a marine biologist coral, sold mainly as decoratives in aquaria, are

marine animals belonging to the class Anthozoa and exist typically in colonies of many identical individuals.
Ratu Peni said the report he received confirmed that those involved were from Viti

Levu and used gas to dive for live corals which were then sold to some middle men.
“I must admit that this is a totally new twist and we’ll alert the Fisheries Department

and police on live coral theft at our marine reserve at Namena.”
The Tui Nadi said the people of Kubulau had worked hard to protect reefs for the future generation.
A press release said – “The Namena MPA encompasses the entire reef around Namena Island, known as the Namena Barrier Reef, and is part of a larger network of marine protected areas set aside by the Kubulau District.
A multitude of species large and small reside here, including sharks, groupers, tuna, schools of barracuda, and multi-coloured soft corals and more.”
Further information about Namena includes:
l The Namena MPA is home to over 1000 species of invertebrates, 400 known

corals, 445 documented marine plants and over 1100 fish species.
l Namena is a migratory pathway for cetaceans, and you may encounter several

species including bottlenose and spinner dolphins, as well as pilot, minke, sperm

and humpback whales.
l Namena provides nesting beaches for green and hawksbill turtles. In fact, Fiji has

four of the world’s marine turtle species, all of which are endangered.
l The Namena Island is a major seabird nesting site, with approximately 600 pairs

of protected red- footed boobies.
l There are three different types of sea snakes and numerous land snakes on the islands. Ratu Peni said because of the increased and continuous poaching at Namena they had posted three fish wardens there.
He has urged those responsible to respect the taboo placed on the reserve.
When contacted yesterday the Fisheries Department said live corals theft was new to

them but confirmed there were markets in Fiji for live corals.
Police spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri said while they had not received

report on this particular matter, they warned those responsible to stop this illegal act.




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