Published: Monday 31 July 1995

Tests conducted by us scientists on sea sponges collected from Fiji's waters have brought to light their potentially cancer fighting properties. But Fijian scientists are worried that the country's marine life will be wiped out if researchers from scientific institutions and pharmaceutical firms worldwide flood in to collect samples for their own experiments.

Experts from the University of South Pacific in capital Suva feel the lack of legislation to protect Fiji's flora and fauna could lead to their uncontrolled collection and depletion. The Fijian government has lagged behind in formulating laws, despite being a signatory to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.

In a un Development Programme-sponsored regional consultation held in Suva recently, indigenous groups in the South Pacific have sought a moratorium on bio-prospecting by overseas researchers until appropriate protection mechanisms are in place.(ips)

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