By Luke Rawalai.
A major research to gather baseline data that will provide statistical evidence and strengthen advocacy for the protection of turtles is being carried out on Yadua Island.
World Wide Fund for Nature communications officer Theresa Ralogaivau said the project targeted the Great Sea Reef in Vanua Levu, an area of global biological significance.
Ms Ralogaivau said the research, funded by WWF South Pacific's Marine Species Program, targeted nesting sites on Yaqaga, Yadua and Galoa island in Bua province and Kia, Mali and Kavewa islands in Macuata.
"In undertaking this research expedition, WWF South Pacific has partnered with both the Fiji National University and University of the South Pacific," she said
"Marine science students from both universities form the research teams that are now located at the various nesting sites, three researchers at each site, guided and assisted by turtle monitors or Dau Ni Vonu to gather data."
WWF's marine species co-ordinator Laitia Tamata emphasised these baseline data would provide statistical evidence and strengthen advocacy for turtle protection.
"Lessons in turtle conservation backed up with statistical evidence will be shared with the Fiji Sea Turtle Steering Committee to inform the formulation of policies and laws for turtle protection and similarly assist Pacific Island countries pursue sea turtle protection," he said.
"The type of data being collected include those relating to nesting beach surveys and catch per unit effort.
"Nesting beach surveys involve gathering information like the name of the beach."