Research is a means of advancing our understanding and management of the marine environment, and includes the dissemination of the information collected through publications, lectures and conference presentations. In addition to improving our knowledge of basic scientific processes, research should underpin human activities and management decisions which reflect principles of sustainable development.
The IMR Vision for Research is to be a reputable, profitable, commercial research agency that carries out applied research on marine resources for external clients. The IMR Vision for Research is to be a reputable, profitable, commercial research agency that carries out applied research on marine resources for external clients.
The guiding principle is that IMR research consultancies are a way for USP's marine expertise and talent to be made available for the benefit of the region, without placing the University's core educational budget under undue strain.
A second guiding principle is that any surplus funds can then be invested by IMR into developing further areas of research that will provide information to assist Pacific Islanders in their quest to use marine resources sustainably.
The IMR values the opportunity to provide quality research and assessments for its clients and to provide them with objective and impartial advice. It also values the role it can play in vocational training for the wider community and the assistance it can provide students and staff within the University. IMR adheres strongly to being an equal opportunity employer.
Much of IMR's potential commercial research work falls into the following 4 areas:
- providing advice on site selection, seed sources, husbandry, farm management and socio-economics for aquaculture ventures;
- providing information directly relating to fisheries management, including the aquarium trade;
- literature-review and desktop status reports for any marine issues;
- providing technical advice on areas within the Institute's range of expertise.
Major Research Areas
- Coral reef monitoring
- Fisheries Management
Since 2000, the Institute has focused on a list of aquaculture commodities primarily comprising:
Freshwater Prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii and M. lar);
Marine shrimps (Penaeus monodon and Litopenaeus stylirostris);
Seaweed (Kappaphycus alvarezii);
Freshwater Fish (Tilapia- Oreochromis niloticus, grass carps- Ctenopharyngodon idella and ornamental goldfish).
IMR has successfully reared Post larvae of both shrimps and prawns at USPís Marine Studies Seawater Laboratory, which are then supplied to farmers. The Institute also provides management and post-larvae for the operation of Fiji ís largest freshwater prawn farm, Dairy Farms Fiji- Aquaculture Unit, which is located at Calia, Navua.
Staff at the Institute have hands-on regional experience and skills to undertake aquaculture site surveys in the tropics. These include:
Additional training on husbandry and culture techniques of the above commodities can also be facilitated. Capacity for DNA analysis for selected shrimp pathogens through gel electrophoresis is available.
Current research projects:
- Investigating spinner dolphin site fidelity, behaviour and critical habitat at Moon Reef, Fiji;
- Land-based surveys of Endangered humpback whales in Fijian waters;
- Examining historical whale distribution in Micronesia;
- Quantifying acoustic detection of short-finned pilot whales in Fiji;
- Predictive habitat modelling for sperm whales in the Pacific Islands region;
- Improving survey design for small dolphin photo-identification surveys.
To read WDCS fieldwork updates: http://www2.wdcs.org/fieldblog/
Coral reef monitoring
Since 2001, IMR has coordinated the South-west Pacific Node of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN). This network comprises Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Nauru, Fiji, Samoa and Tuvalu. IMR has provided training on monitoring methods, data analysis and report writing for the respective countries. It has helped the countries establish small surveying teams by providing scuba equipment and other logistical support.
IMR has helped these countries to establish national coral reef strategic action plans, and will continue to support them in monitoring their various permanent sites. The information from these surveys is relayed to IMR which maintains the data base and relays information to the GCRMN Headquarters who relay it to Reefbase at the WORLDFISH Centre in Penang. From 2005 onwards an IMR staff member will input South Pacific data directly into the Reefbase meta-database.
IMR has carried out consultancies for companies involved in the aquarium trade, which is very relevant in the region. In 2008, the Institute of Marine Resources conducted research in the Aquarium Fish Fiji (AFF) collection area to provide data to compliment the information collected by the Fiji- Department of Fisheries in their assessment of live coral abundance. IMR used the same survey design and techniques to allow for comparative results and to add to the information required to assess the coral abundance, which is considered by the CITES authorities to be central to the non-detriment finding. This effort was very successful in assessing the CITES taxa categories with regard to the density of species or species group within the area surveyed. As with all coral reef assessment work, the survey would have benefitted from additional surveys for such a large area. However, it did accomplish a substantial assessment of 2, 775 sq. mt. in which 14, 159 coral colonies were counted.
The effort over 6 days was seen as a success in gathering data which required substantial in-water assessment, taxonomic training, withstanding physical conditions and good planning. The exercise however was considered to be the first stage of a progressive assessment. The information gained has provided a good understanding of the level of collection in what is a very abundant resource. Subsequent work will be directed at providing additional information for areas where additional survey and/or analysis is required. In addition, the study was important in defining the additional areas of data collection where further information is required.