Status of Coral Reefs in the South West Pacific: Fiji, Nauru, New Caledonia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Coral reefs in the Southwest Pacific are generally in good condition. There was extensive
coral bleaching during 2000-2002. Since then coral reefs have shown highly variable recovery
with some reefs recovering fully to pre-bleaching levels of live coral cover, whereas others
have shown virtually no recovery. Nauru experienced coral bleaching and mass fish kills in
October-December 2003, possibly due to unusually high sea surface temperatures. The greatest
threats to coral reefs of the region continue to be human activities and cyclones, with reefs
of New Caledonia, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu having been damaged by cyclones
since the 2002 status report. Cyclone Erica in 2003 destroyed 10-80% of live coral cover on
New Caledonia. Cyclone Heta struck Samoa in 2004, damaging 13% of the coral reefs, and
in mid-2004 an unprecedented number of seabirds were found dead on Nauru; the cause is
unknown. The momentum in the protection and conservation of coral reefs in the region has
been boosted by increased participation of governments, NGOs, scientists, volunteers and local
communities, especially in the implementation of resource management strategies to mitigate
human pressure. A series of damaging bleaching, crown-of-thorns starfish, disease and cyclone
events in the past 10 years has generated a greater awareness of the need to conserve coral reefs.
The SW Pacific Node has established an important network and conducted training, which will
contribute greatly to coral reef management in the Pacific. However, these initial investments
and initiatives could be seriously compromised after 2004 without ongoing financial support
for coordination and monitoring. Monitoring surveys are only useful if they are conducted on
a regular basis and tied to relevant issues such as over-fishing, MPA establishment and coral
reef management. This report summarises the status of coral reefs of the SW Pacific region
and has been compiled from the national reports of the 7 member countries. These national
reports will be published in their entirety in December 2004; more information is on: www.

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