August 2001, an expert team comprising Dr. Anthony G.
Coates (then Director for Scientific Research Programs
of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC), Dr. Michael
Lang (Director of Scientific Diving Program & Marine
Science Coordinator, Smithsonian Institution), Dr. Ira
Rubinoff (Director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research
Institute), and Dr. Kenneth Johnson (Natural History Museum
of Los Angeles County) visited Fiji under the auspices
the Action Plan. These experts have recognized Fiji as a splendid
candidate for a center of marine diversity that would
undertake the world's first total biodiversity inventory
of the coral reef ecosystem. The Center would take advantage
of the country's geographical location in the region of
highest coral reef diversity, and of its innumerable examples
of all stages in the development of oceanic coral reefs.