Coral Harvesting - Fiji.

Julian Sprung JSprung at
Fri Aug 6 08:20:28 EDT 1999

Bula Maureen,

I agree with Bruce, but want to point out some important considerations for
interpreting the data.

The figures for live rock and corals must not be lumped together, as that
would represent an extreme miscalculation. The live rock harvested from
Fiji is composed of and constructed mostly by coralline algae. There is
some Montipora, Leptastrea, Psammocora and Porites among it, but the
majority throughout is just coralline algae. So, figures of "how many tons
of live rock" do not equal how much coral. I would estimate that the rock
is not more than 10% coral by weight, probably much less.

On the subject of weight, the live rock is wet, so the weights quoted
include quite a bit of water. That should be considered too.

The weight of water may also be a factor in "tonnage" of live corals
reported, as they are typically shipped submerged in a bag of water,
suspended by a styrofoam float. The figures for live corals should be
reported as number of pieces, not weight.

It should be pointed out to concerned parties that the corals harvested are
typically fist-sized colonies that represent between six months and two
years growth, and they are often but not always fragments found unattached,
having broken off of larger colonies. This represents a completely
renewable resource and a viable industry for Fiji, provided that no extreme
loss of coral to an ENSO event occurs there. 

I have seen the kind of Area in Fiji where the live rock is harvested. The
areas are vast. It is not taken from "among the corals" as concerned
parties might imagine. It occurs in a large region far behind the reefs,
where this particular type of coralline algae forms porous lumpy rocks
unattached to the bottom, and covered on top with various species of
macroalgae. What I do not know is the growth rate of these coralline
stones, so I cannot comment on the level of harvest that can be termed


Julian Sprung

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