By Eroni Tuinaceva, journalism student at FNU
4 December 2013, Suva Fiji - A rapid assessment survey of Nauru's marine and terrestrial biodiversity has identified two key bird species that are threatened, one of which is at risk of extinction.
Nauru's integrated biodiversity project coordinator Mr. Asterio Appi presented the findings of the biodiversity rapid assessment survey to delegates at the Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas, in Suva today.
“We brought in a group of marine and terrestrial scientific experts who surveyed everything from insects, plants and birds to coral reefs, invertebrate species and general fish biodiversity,” Mr. Appi said.
Two important bird species were revealed in the survey to be at risk of dying out.
“One of the key things we wanted to look at was the endemic Reef Warbler and the Black Noddy,” Mr. Appi said.
“The black noddy is a key source of protein for the islanders and apparently it’s been over-harvested for many years now. So we want to put recovery plans into place but in the event there isn’t a need for such measures, we’ll have to look at awareness programs in the community as well as monitor harvests,” Mr. Appi explained.
Regarding the island flora, the survey recorded severe loss in plant life caused by industrial activity.
“Most of the plant species are found along the coastal areas. Unfortunately, due to years of mining we have deforested a lot of places. However, the Nauru Rehabilitation Corporation (NRC) is trying its best to recover the lands,” he revealed.
Mr. Appi added that the government of Nauru is working closely with the NRC and the fisheries department to identify key biodiversity areas and discuss conservation and protected areas. The fisheries department further collaborated with marine scientists to conduct a comprehensive survey on the fish biodiversity.
“Due to its isolation, the island has a low biodiversity. However, the reef health is about seven on a scale of one to ten,” he divulged.
Appi’s concluding remarks highlighted the need for proper records to identify the real effects of overfishing.
“There is indication of the existence of overfishing. However we are yet to see proper documentation that can vouch for this,” he said.
Eroni Tuinaceva is a member of the Media Team providing coverage of the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas from 2 to 6 December in Suva, Fiji. This is a partnership between the Fiji National University (FNU), University of the South Pacific (USP), SPREP and Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) whereby a team of 10 journalism students are mentored by senior reporters as they cover the conference. This activity is funded by the Pacific Assistance Media Scheme (PACMAS).