Vanuatu Marine Conservation Area Launched
Vanuatu is a South Pacific nation located some 1,000 miles east of Northern Australia. Seacology has launched seven marine and forest conservation projects in Vanuatu. It's also a place where we couldn't work effectively without Kevin Tari, one of our nine island-based field representatives throughout the world. These field reps identify good projects; keep our Berkeley-based staff apprised of conservation, cultural and other issues in their home regions; monitor project progress; and in general act as our eyes and ears on the islands where we work.
We just received this great report from Kevin regarding Marou Village on Emau Island, where Seacology funded the completion of a kindergarten building and equipment in exchange for a 32-acre no-take marine reserve, and the establishment of a 300-acre terrestrial reserve for a minimum duration of 10 years. The kindergarten was dedicated in September 2006; however, just last week the community held another celebration - this time to mark their commitment to their Marine Protected Area Management Plan:
On Friday 21/09/07 I was invited on behalf of Seacology by the Marou Council of Chiefs in Emau and the Foundation for the people of South Pacific Vanuatu (FSP) to the launching of the Marou Marine Protected Area Management Plan at Marou Village. The event was organized by FSP and Small Bag Theater (both NGOs) and Council of Chiefs of Marou. Those that attended the launching were Government Representatives, Chiefs & reps from nearby villagers in North Efate and MPA reps from other islands like the Nguna/Pele MPA. During the occasion there were speeches (I gave a short speech too on behalf of Seacology), pig killing ceremony, dedication of a New MPA working committee for Marou Village, kava ceremony, gifts presentation and an Island resource management Forum which ended the day's program.
The Marou Marine Protected Area Management Plan (only 'Bislama' version) is a 18 pages working document on how Marou should manage its resources (both Marine & Terrestrial species/resources stipulated in the Agreement with Seacology) during the 10 years period. This document was drafted by FSP and Small Bag in consultation with members of Marou Community, Vanuatu Fisheries Department reflecting the wishes of the people of Marou to be able to enjoy a good life today, tomorrow and for the future generations too. The document was lunched with the signing by Chief Noupat George, Paramount chief of Marou Village and witnessed by Sepa Kaltau, Councilor of Shefa Province. For me, I think it was a great event to be part and witness what Marou Village are doing and the level of commitment they putting into managing their resources.
Below: A traditional Vanuatu string band plays at the opening of the Marou kindergarten in September 2006 (photo credit: Kevin Tari).