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Back in 1997 I started hearing about some hobbyist and professionals experimenting with the idea of cutting small pieces of their favorite coral and gluing them to other pieces of rock. Then Fiji was hit by a major cyclone and one of our favorite collecting reefs was smashed to bits. When we went there a few weeks after the storm there were little pieces of coral everywhere all over the sandy bottom. I thought this was a terrible tragedy and moved on. Then I went back to that same reef about three weeks later to show a visiting scientist the site and discovered that all those little pieces had started to send off little shoots towards the sun. This incident made me realize that coral farming could become a reality within our industry and hired that same scientist to begin our experiments with different types of hard coral fragments.
About the same time I visited my friend, Dave Palmer, in the Solomon Islands and he showed me some racks they were working on in a remote island to the north of Honiara. After returning to Fiji I modified what I saw just a little and coral farming as we practice it today was born. As time went on we started to experiment with other types of coral and today our diversity spans over a wide range of species. On one reef we have 5 different farms with the potential to grow over 20,000 pieces on that reef alone. It has taken many years to get the distributors interested in this type of product but we persevered with faith that one day this would be a major part of our market. Today the export of cultured coral and rock consist of about 20% of our annual export and we see the number growing. We have discovered new ways of doing things as we continue to experiment and our new manager (Cameron) has brought many fresh ideas with him from Australia where he dabbled in coral farming in his country for several years before joining us in 2011.
Getting ready to make aquaculture coral plugs. We can make up to 2,000 pieces per day.
Our new style coral farm bases plus coral plugs all ready to go.
Starting the process of curing the newly planted corals.
After a days rest in our tanks they are ready to go to our farms at sea.
Tatusi, our coral farm manager who works directly under Cameron.
Overview of the different types planted before they go out to sea.
Loading the boat on the way to the farm.
Diver headed for the planting racks.
Sometimes we use larger trays at bigger sites.
Harvest just in ready for export.
Our newly designed tray in use, much better than steel for the environment
A very nice specie
on our farm.
Order in place for shipment to Europe.
Close up of some species ready to go.
Brood stock on farm rack. We are now in third and fourth generation brood.
"Is There an Alternative?"
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"What else can we do...Ecotourism?"
Walt Smith International Fiji Ltd PO BOX 4466 Lautoka, Fiji Islan