The Research Division coordinates and assists with various research and development projects in Fiji waters mainly concentrating on inshore areas of Fiji though not limited to it. There are several projects under the division targetted at enhancing conservation and sustainable development of different marine species and the associated environment. One of the core projects of the division is the Marine Resource Inventory Survey, which is mandated to carry out biological and socio-economic surveys in the 410 qoliqoli's in Fiji and compile resource profiles for the respective areas. Management Plans are also formulated with the communities after the survey which assists the resource custodians to plan out activities and actions to be undertaken in their respective qoliqoli's.
The second project is the Pearl Oyster Project which is aimed at developing a competent, sustainable and well recognized pearl industry in Fiji. It works with communities and industries to establish spat farms and pearl oyster farms, providing technical expertise and facilitating dialogue between all the stakeholders. The Pearl Oyster project’s overarching objective is to ensure a quality seed/spat stock is available to local pearl farmers. The project believes this will only be realized through its expanding community based spat collection program where women, youth and communities as a whole are engaged to ensure a sustainable stock of spats are readily available for marketing. Through this means, the communities are also being provided an alternative source of income to improve their livelihood.
The third project is the Makogai Mariculture Project which was initiated to undertake Mariculture of the endangered giant clam species. The project was established in 1983 under the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) for the main purpose of culturing of Giant Clams to be reseeded into marine protected areas (MPA) to maximise economic benefits and improve livelihood in coastal villages and maritime islands. The coastal marine resources has been exploited over the years leading to significant decline in stock abundance of targeted fisheries hence the project aims to diversify from one (1) commodity (Giant Clams) to culture other potential species such as trochus, sea grapes, sea urchin and coral reef fish after rehabilitation of the island is completed as it was severely damaged during Cyclone Winston. The project also undertakes other research and assessment activities such as Turtle and Cetaceans Research, Fisheries Aggregation Device (FAD) Research (on site selection, materials trials and production), a component of the FAD Research is the pelagic fishes research which will involve tagging/release and genetic sampling as well as research on climate change adaptation and resilience on the assessment of the status of live coral (bleaching occurrence) and crown of thorns (COT) population explosion on coral reefs around Makogai island. Coral reefs around Makogai Island will be a permanent station to monitor the impact of climate change on coral reefs.
The division also undertakes specific species research such as the CITES and CMS listed species for example turtles, cetaceans and sharks and rays. It engages in collecting CPUE data, market surveys for commodities such as mud crabs, sea urchins and lobsters. The division assists in providing policy advice for possible management regulations for species or supporting habitats.
The division has also created partnerships with compatible institutions, which are also active in conservation, resource and fisheries management. The collaboration works are between the Department of Fisheries with Conservation Non-Government organizations (NGOs), Academic Institutions and line Ministries; accordingly supplementing the efforts of the research division.