UNDP-funded project leads to conservation of vulnerable marine ecosystems in Solomon Islands
(Honiara, Solomon Islands) – A Committee has recently been appointed to manage the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Maringe Lagoon near Buala in Isabel Province (Solomon Islands). The protection of the vulnerable marine ecosystem has been possible through close co-operation between Maringe local communities, the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Meteorology (MECM), Isabel Provincial Government and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“The establishment of Marine Protected Areas in Maringe Lagoon is an important step to conserve vulnerable marine zones in the Solomon Islands. We consider this to be a move in the right direction towards achieving Millennium Development Goal number 7 (MDG7) which promotes environmental sustainability”, says UNDP Officer-in-Charge in Solomon Islands, Shabnam Mallick.
Recently, during Maringe Lagoon Marine Conservation Areas’ (MMCA) first Management Committee meeting in Isabel Province, a Committee Chairman and a Coordinator were appointed to oversee the administration of MMCA. The areas selected to be covered under the management plan as Marine Protected Areas are: Sulei Island (including the surrounding reefs, Frazer Reef, Hulakefo Reef, and adjacent mangrove forests); West end of Fera Island (including the inner fish pond) and the inner lagoon reef of Tasia Island.
The Management Committee has endorsed the selected MPA sites, and it has made a field reconnaissance survey of the three sites and established their designated boundaries. The management plan has also been adopted by leaders representing 14 communities within the Maringe Lagoon, and it is supported by the Diocese of Ysabel and the Maringe House of Chiefs.
The primary purpose of creating the conservation area is to ease the pressure caused by fishing and exploitation of natural resources in the lagoon. In recent years, unsustainable fishing in the lagoon has led to a decline in fin-fish and other marine resources. Protecting biodiversity is one of the main objectives in the Management Plan. This includes increasing the fish abundance and diversity, protecting coral reef from physical damage and stabilizing and improving the living coral cover on the reef.
Other objectives are to increase the fish yields for harvest, as well as increasing benefits from tourism. Now that nearly all necessary activities are completed, the Isabel Conservation project is preparing for a launching ceremony on Friday 25 June to mark the accomplishments made so far. This will also mark the official closure of the MPA sites for one year.
The Isabel Community Conservation Project is funded by the UNDP.
Kenneth Solberg, Communications Intern, UNDP Honiara, email: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel: (+677) 27446; 426565