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Marine Biological Surveys of Coral Reefs in the Northern Lau Group

The province of Lau, located in Fiji’s Eastern Division,comprises 60 islands and islets collectively known asthe Lau Group. The Lau Group has been identified as anarea of national significance and high priority for marineprotection. On 20 February 2016, Fiji was hit by Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Winston that caused widespread damage across the country. Cyclone Winston made first landfall through the Eastern Division, severely damagingthe islands and diverse ecosystems of Northern Lau. An 8 day marine biological baseline survey was conducted by Vatuvara Foundation and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) from 8−16 May, 2017. The expedition was the first systematic effort to document the marine environments of Kaibu, Yacata, Vatuvara,Kanacea and Adavaci islands in the Northern Lau Group.The objectives of this survey were to: (a) collect data onthe health, abundance and diversity of corals, reef fishand invertebrate species, in order to establish a baseline for long-term monitoring; (b) document the damage to community fishing grounds caused by Cyclone Winston;and (c) provide recommendations to communities on the management of their traditional fishing grounds to support food security and sustainable livelihoods.