FIJI NEWS

Turtle project set to launch

By Fonua Talei A prominent local marine conservation NGO will be launching its new turtle conservation project at the end of this month. This means that guidelines for turtle conservation
20 Jun 2012 08:58

A worker at the Mamanuca environment Society releases a young turtle into the ocean.

By Fonua Talei

A prominent local marine conservation NGO will be launching its new turtle conservation project at the end of this month.
This means that guidelines for turtle conservation in Fiji including our Pacific Island neighbours are about to get even more precise.
The Mamanuca Environment Society has declared its intentions to protect the stunning
marine and terrestrial environment of the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji, through their “Mamanuca Sea Turtle to be launched on June 29.
Initially started in 2006 with Institute of Marine Research (IMR-USP) through an Australian Grant to do research on sea turtles in the Mamanucas, the mission was further boosted through the UNDP Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grant programme of USD$50,000 in 2008.
Over the years, the society toiled tirelessly to promote, educate and assist villagers, communities and resorts in the Mamanuca region on why turtles have to be saved.
Looking back, MES Project Manager Betani Salusalu said even though the journey was not easy, the outcomes are priceless.
Mr Salusalu said the launch the Turtle Project outcomes ‘will reflect the future of Turtle Conservation in the Mamanucas, Fiji Islands and through the Pacific Islands’.
“This is a Model project for Fiji and some of the documents coming out of this project are first for the Fiji Islands and the Pacific like the Best Practices Guideline and Policy.
The present of the Government Department Representatives and other stakeholders gives good mileage toward this project.”
“MES will now be looking at the phase of implementation to these outcomes to all stakeholders. These will means working closely with the Government Department, private sectors and environmental bodies and communities in Fiji and within the Pacific Islands.
He further state that turtle conservation was already implemented on most resorts long before MES stepped in.
“In some way it makes our work easier. There were some initiatives on the ground before
The project started in 2008. We stepped in and began to engage stakeholders like communities, Resorts and Schools to be able to justify and learn from the need to enhance this project and its implementation.
The first turtle pond was set up at Treasure Island Resort, than Bounty Island Resort before it spread to Vomo and Mana Island Resort. Three of the world’s seven species of sea turtles nest in Fiji- the green (Chelonia mydas, Vonu Dina), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricate, Taku), and leatherback (Dermochelys Coriacea, vonudakulaca, tutuwalu).
Nesting occurs between November and February. Loggerhead turtle are also found in most islands but not known to nest in Fiji.
All marine turtle species are experiencing serious threats to their survival. Marine turtles are recognised internationally as species of conservation concern as in Fiji, with a survival rate of 1 in every 1000.



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