Ni sa bula vinaka and welcome to the first edition of the Vatu-i-Ra Seascape Newsletter for 2016!
While we had a good start to the year, this quarter was quickly overshadowed by Category 5 tropical cyclone Winston that hit Fiji on 20 February 2016. It was one of the largest cyclones we have experienced with winds up to 185mph.
Over a 24-hour period the cyclone left a trail of destruction, and the Fijian Government immediately announced a 30 day state of emergency, calling for coordinated assistance from NGOs, private sector and humanitarian aid agencies.
Because of the pathway of the cyclone, some of the most affected are the 116,000 people that live in remote rural communities within the Vatu-i-Ra Seascape where the Wildlife Conservation Society-Fiji works, which covers the provinces of Bua, Lomaiviti, Ra and Tailevu.
Despite the recent events, we continue to remain committed to the conservation and sustainable use of the Vatu-i-Ra Seascape. While the team coordinated the delivery of some basic relief to the communities we work with, I joined Nai’a Cruises to do a preliminary assessment of the impact of the cyclone on coral reefs in the seascape.
The report is timely, and is contributing to the government-led Post Disaster Needs Assessment, and has received media coverage both locally and internationally, including on National Geographic online. Click here for more