If you find a bright yellow object floating out at sea, leave it alone!
It’s not a mini treasure chest or a spying device.
It’s a wave buoy that collects real-time wave observation and regularly transmits data to the Fiji Meteorological Service and the Pacific Community (SPC). Wave buoys provide measurements of wave height, direction, period and sea surface temperature.
Without onsite observations from wave-buoys, forecasters normally rely on satellite readings and on wave models, which work well in the high seas but do not give an accurate picture of what happens when waves reach the coastline.
So far, seven wave buoys have been deployed in three sites including off the coast of Cuvu and Komave villages and in the south of Kadavu.
During the Suva Ocean Stakeholders meeting on Tuesday, Permanent Secretary Taitusi Vakadravuyaca reminded stakeholders that wave-buoys should be left alone as they regularly transmit data and are rarely lost.
“If you’re fishing, please do not use this as a mooring or anchor as it will get damaged. Please do not tamper with the instruments: they have no commercial value but are collecting data.”
The meeting heard that the wave buoy deployed near Cuvu has been replaced three times.
Recently, the wave buoy near Komave Village drifted, but it was captured without being damaged.
It drifted 50 kilometres away from its mooring site.
Mr Vakadravuyaca said the drift was caused by a fisherman who tried to anchor and tie his boat on the floaters.
The one deployed in Kadavu was damaged as a result of Tropical Cyclone Sarai.
Wave Buoys Off Suva
Stakeholders were advised of plans to deploy two wave buoys off Suva next month.
Two proposed sites were discussed – Site 1, off the Suva harbour entrance and site 2, near the entrance to the sandbank.
Questions were raised about the two proposed sites as they were situated along the navigational route.
A representative from the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji suggested that Fiji Met and SPC lodge an application with the authority to find the most suitable site for the wave-buoys.
Maintenance Of Wave Buoys
This is being carried out on a six-monthly basis. The maintenance includes cleaning of the hull from sea growing life and solar panels.
It has been observed that seagrass tend to cover the solar panel, which causes a reduction in the self-powered rate and damage to the panels.
The meeting also heard that the wave buoys act as a fish aggregating device – a concern for both the Fiji Met and SPC.
During the discussions, the community-led group suggested that communities near the wave-buoy deployment sites were empowered to clean and ensure the security of the devices.
This was also the first time community representatives were invited to attend the consultation.
The inaugural ocean stakeholder workshop took place last year.
Present on Tuesday were the Turaga ni Koro from three villages along the Suva coastline and the Mata ni Tikina o Suva, Sakiusa Bagasau.
The Turaga ni Koro present were Samu Toge – Muaivuso Village, Vereti Dumaru – Suvavou Village and Semi Suvinakama – Waiqanake Village.
The wave buoys are being deployed by the Fiji Meteorological Service and SPC under the World Meteorological Organisation’s (WMO) Coastal Inundation Forecasting Demonstration Project (CIFDP).
SPC deputy director ocean and maritime, Jens Kruger said that while global models and satellite observations provided a good understanding of what was happening in the open ocean, our understanding of the dynamics at the coast was not so clear.
“This is the area of greatest interest to most Pacific islanders. Ninety per cent of Fijians live within 10 kilometres off the coast,” he said.