A Training Workshop on Taxonomic Identification of Marine Invertebrates was held from the 14-15 February 2018 by the Pacific Natural Products Research Centre (PNPRC) of the Institute of Applied Sciences (IAS). The workshop focused on developing skills in Taxonomy and also the identifying specimens recently collected under the Global Environment Facility-Access Benefit Sharing (GEF-ABS) Project trip to Beqa in January 2018.
The workshop participants included representatives from the Ministry of Fisheries (MoF), Ministry of i- Taukei Affairs (MTA) and the Institute of Applied Sciences (IAS).
PNPRC Assistant Project Manager, Klaus Feussner who facilitated the workshop, began with a general introduction into marine invertebrate taxonomy, particularly soft corals from the Phylum Cnidaria and sponges from the Phylum Porifera. He further discussed the common sponges and soft corals that the PNPRC team finds and collects in the field and highlighted the various challenges faced by divers when extracting some specimens. He also stressed to the participants the importance of knowing the diagnostic features of soft corals and sponges, as this would aid the species identification process in the labs.
Although there are few experts in marine sponges and soft corals in Fiji, Mr. Klaus believes that the study of marine benthic infauna is vital for bio-prospecting purposes and hopes that through the GEF-ABS project, there will be more interest groomed to take on the study of sponges and soft corals.