Helen Sykes was chosen to be part of the survey team, made up of specialist fish and coral experts, which recently completed a 10 day expedition to the untouched waters and lush limestone islands of the Northern Lau Group.
This was the first scientific survey to be carried out by the Vatuvara Foundation in these waters. The team dived between May 8 – 16 on coral reefs around Kaibu, Kanacea, Vatuvara, Yacata, and Adavaci Islands in Lau and Cakaudrove Provinces.
Armed with this incredible team of Fijian scientists with inquisitive minds and an eagerness for knowledge, they embarked on this diving expedition to safeguard these waters as safe havens for marine life for future generations.
The dive team collected baseline data on the abundance and diversity of corals and fish species, as well as key invertebrates such as sea cucumbers that are an important source of livelihood for local communities.
A separate team with representatives from the Ministry of Fisheries, Cakaudrove Provincial Office, WCS and the Vatuvara Foundation, visited the community of Yacata in Northern Lau Group to provide general awareness on natural resource management, conduct participatory mapping of community land and sea resources, and to learn more about their traditional knowledge. This understanding of traditional practices has helped strengthen the Vatuvara Foundation’s vision on how critical it is to protect and revive the ocean through marine protection and the empowerment of local communities as stewards of their natural resources.
Katy Miller, Director of the Vatuvara Foundation stated “We hope to help Northern Lau Group communities manage their natural resources, and these baseline surveys play a vital part in this. The Pacific Ocean is our home and we need to collectively work together, to better look after our oceans for future generations to come.”