By Dawn Gibson
Fiji will next week play host to one of the most important shark conservation forums this year, with reps from 11 countries from around the region expected to gather in Nadi to discuss protection measures.
Organised by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the workshop will run for two days, hosting fisheries, environment and Customs officials from Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu.
In an interview yesterday, Fiji field representative for the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) Arthur Sokimi said the meet would pay particular attention to the five new shark species which were last year added to the CITES Appendix Two.
"So what we're doing now in this workshop is that we are looking at building the capacity of enforcement officers, not only in Fiji but in the region," Mr Sokimi said.
"There are around 11 countries that have confirmed registration, so there's a list of all of the Pacific Island countries that are parties to the CITES Convention who are going to be present."
He said one of the biggest components of the two-day meet would be shark fin identification training.
"And this training will be on these newly-listed shark species.
"So it's to help our fisheries, environment and biosecurity people, to provide training for these enforcement officers who will at some time or another come into contact with these species."