The Minister for Education, Heritage & Arts & National Archives of Fiji, the Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy officially launched USP’s 2016 research projects today at the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre, USP. These are projects that would directly address some of the pressing issues facing its member countries. Under the University’s current Strategic Plan, these issues are grouped under seven overarching themes that govern USP’s activities in learning and teaching, research and community engagement, namely:
1. Human Capacity Building and Leadership
2. Economic Growth, Regional Co-operation and Integration for Sustainable Pacific Economies
3. Pacific Ocean and Natural Resources
4. Pacific cultures and Societies
5. ICT and Knowledge Economy
6. Government, Public Policy and Social Cohesion
7. Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change
Since the inception of its Strategic Plan in 2013, USP has embarked on working closely with the member countries to identify specific areas that could be addressed via research. For 2016, a total of 30 projects, valued at $1.5 million have been approved. Hon. Reddy commented USP for its commitment to its member countries and emphasized the importance of research in the sustainable development of a nation.
The highlight of the launching ceremony was the official hand-over of a report and associated data from USP to the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests. They contain the details of a discovery by USP researchers that the Rewa River Delta hosts what could possibly be the largest nursery ground in the world for the scalloped hammerhead shark, the most globally threatened shark species, the details of which have been recently included in the endangered list by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The discovery has caught the world’s attention, with a BBC documentary being produced. The Ministry is drafting a law that will protect the nursery.
USP’s Director of Research, Dr. Jito Vanualailai, said that the onus was now on Fiji to look after this remarkable resource and proclaim to the world its uniqueness as the largest nursery in the world for a shark species at the edge of extinction.
L-R: At the launching were Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Innovation & International), Professor Derrick Armstrong; The Minister of Education, Heritage & Arts & National Archives of Fiji, Honorable Dr. Mahendra Reddy; Vice-Chancellor and President of University of the South Pacific, Professor Rajesh Chandra; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Fisheries & Forests, Mr. Samuela Lagataki; Director Environment, Fiji Government, Mr. Aminiasi Qareqare and Director Research, Associate Professor Jito Vanualailai.