Fiji Launches One Million Coral Planting Program

10 Oct, 2020

Some of the 400 coral fragments that were created by attendees at the launch of the One Million Coral Planting Project, held by Fiji's Ministry of Fisheries in celebration of Fiji Day and the 50th anniversary of Fijian independence from colonial rule.
Some of the 400 coral fragments that were created by attendees at the launch of the One Million Coral Planting Project, held by Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries in celebration of Fiji Day and the 50th anniversary of Fijian independence from colonial rule.

The Fiji-based non-profit Aquaculture Development for the Environment Project (A.D.E.) founded by Walt Smith (of Walt Smith International, WSI) has partnered with Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries to launch the One Million Coral Planting Program. Through a plan aiming to involve 20 or more coastal villages, with a target for each village to plant 1,000 corals per week, the forecast is to have one million corals placed on damaged and troubled Fijian reefs by December 31st, 2021.

Walt Smith, founder and managing director of ADE.

“We’ve been working on the A.D.E. Project for many years, first conceived in 2011,” says Smith. “I’m very excited that it’s finally gaining momentum and being recognized as an organization with some good to do, particularly by the Ministry of Fisheries. They’re a key governmental agency given how important the coral reefs are to Fiji. We’re surrounded by coral reefs, which drive tourism, the most important industry in Fiji. Even though Fiji’s reefs are in pretty good condition right now, it’s important to be proactive and ensure that they remain that way for the future. A.D.E. is a good program to help make that happen.”

A.D.E.’s first donation came from the Washington D.C. Area Marine Aquarist Society, Inc. (WAMAS), leading the way for support from others in the aquarium hobby and industry, including a notable $2,500 grant from the 2019 Marine Aquarium Conference of North America (MACNA), which helped establish the scientific principals behind the A.D.E. project. A.D.E. is actively seeking donors and soliciting grants, and all Million Coral Project expenses to date have been financed by WSI, with additional financial support anticipated from Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries and other worldwide donors. The total cost for the project is estimated to be $1,000,000 US over the course of the year, or roughly $1 per coral planted on the reef.

Forestry Minister Naiqamu formally introducing the project at the October 10th, 2020 event. A.D.E. Project co-directors Deb and Walter Smith are seated behind the minister (both in vibrant blue attire).
Forestry Minister Naiqamu formally introducing the project at the October 10th, 2020 event. A.D.E. Project co-directors Deb and Walter Smith are seated behind the minister (both in vibrant blue attire).

The Official Announcement from Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries

The Honourable Minister for Forestry, Mr. Osea Naiqamu officially launched the One Million Coral Planting Program this morning during the Fiji Day celebrations in Nasau Park in Levuka.

Mr. Naiqamu said that what better way to celebrate and mark Fiji’s 50th year since becoming independent but by launching the initiative in Levuka.

Forestry Minister Naiquamu (left) and Permanent Secretary of Fisheries Pene N. Baleinabuli (center) congratulate Walt Smith (right) of the A.D.E. Project, which will execute the plan to plant out one million new maricultured corals onto Fiji's reefs.
Forestry Minister Naiquamu (left) and Permanent Secretary of Fisheries Pene N. Baleinabuli (center) congratulate Walt Smith (right) of the A.D.E. Project, which will execute the plan to plant out one million new maricultured corals onto Fiji’s reefs.

“This is where Fiji’s modernization began when our forefathers ceded Fiji to Great Britain”.

Director of Fisheries Dr. Mere Lakeba has been a driving force behind the A.D.E. proposal for the One Million Coral Planting Project.
Director of Fisheries Dr. Mere Lakeba has been a driving force behind the A.D.E. proposal for the One Million Coral Planting Project.

“With the theme, ‘Build, Restore Fiji’s Natural Asset for a Resilient Future’, the One Million Coral planting initiative will certainly place more emphasis on the need for us to take better care of our oceans,” said Mr. Naiqamu.

Mr. Naiqamu added that more healthy corals in our ocean means more fish and it also has a wider role to play like protecting coastlines, raising the profiles of livelihoods of coastal communities, and providing sources of economic pursuits.

“The Ministry of Fisheries have identified areas around the country whose coral reefs need immediate restoration.”

The Ministry will also be working closely with Aquaculture Development for the Environment (ADE) in carrying out the planting program.

“There are other partners and individuals who have been working directly with communities in terms of coral restoration. Please continue with the great work that you are doing,” said Mr. Naiqamu.

Around 400 corals on racks were planted this morning at the Levuka Foreshore which were later transferred out at sea.

The Ministry of Fisheries hopes that more communities will work together and assist in restoring a healthy ocean especially for our future generation.

Those in attendance, including Neomai Ravitu, Principal Fisheries Officer Western, had the opportunity to create 400 new coral fragments for grow out and future propagation, taking only an hour to complete. Only 999,600 more to go!
Those in attendance, including Neomai Ravitu, Principal Fisheries Officer Western, had the opportunity to create 400 new coral fragments for grow out and future propagation, taking only an hour to complete. Only 999,600 more to go!

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Image Credits: Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries

See more images from the event on the Fiji Ministry of Fisheries Facebook page.

To donate or learn more about the A.D.E. Project, visit https://www.adeproject.org/

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About the author

Reef To Rainforest
Reef To Rainforest

Reef to Rainforest Media, LLC is the publisher of award-winning magazines and books in the fields of aquarium keeping, aquatics, and marine science. It is the English-language publisher of CORAL Magazine and is based in Shelburne, Vermont, USA.

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