Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) - In an effort to bring about closer collaboration and integration of work and activities relating to coral ecosystems and marine biodiversity in Fiji, scientists, researchers, development partners and stakeholders will hold a roundtable meeting this month.

The meeting, organised by Coral Reef Initiatives for the Pacific (CRISP) with the support of the French Embassy, will be held in Suva on the 12th of April and will discuss improved alliances and synergies that need to be developed to support an integrated approach to coastal management in Fiji.

Participants will also look at existing mechanisms and the support that the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), which hosts CRISP at their Noumea headquarters, can provide in ensuring that an integrated approach is facilitated.

Before discussions start, participants will hear presentations from academics, mainly from the University of the South Pacific, who are currently conducting or have already conducted research on marine ecosystems.

Issues that they will highlight include bioprospection (the discovery of new and useful biological mechanisms), taxonomy, reef resources, reef health monitoring, traditional knowledge and integrated watershed management.

The meeting will also take into consideration CRISP future plans and prospects of a continuation of activities in Fiji, or outside Fiji and involving Fijian citizens.

The Government of Fiji through its Ministry of Fisheries and Forests will participate in discussions.

Representatives from non-government organisations such as the Worldwide Fund for Nature, the Foundation of the People of the South Pacific International, Partners in Community Development Fiji, the Landcare Research Institute, the Research Institute for Development, Worldwide Fund - South Pacific, Fiji Locally-managed Marine Area Network and the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme will also be present to contribute towards the development of the integrated approach to coastal management in Fiji.

Sponsored by France and established by the French Development Agency, CRISP is part of an inter-ministerial project that began in 2002.

The CRISP Programme aims to develop a vision for the future of these unique ecosystems and the communities that depend on them, and to introduce strategies and projects to conserve their biodiversity, while developing the economic and environmental services that they provide both locally and globally. CRISP also has a role in fostering greater integration in this area among developed countries (Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the USA), French overseas territories and Pacific Island countries.