Four villages in the Tikina Malolo were part of the Mamanuca Sea Turtle Conservation awareness workshop over the past four days. From the 18th to the 21st MES and its collaborative partners conducted workshops on the Turtle conservation Project that’s spear headed by Mamanuca Environment Society seeing participants from Yaro, Solevu, Tavua and Yanuya village.
The first two days of the workshop was conducted in Solevu village for the villagers of Solevu and Yaro from the 18th to the 19th. While the last two days was conducted in Yanuya village for the villagers of Yanuya and Tavua on the 20th to the 21st. The main objectives of the workshop were the reporting of findings to the participants on the socio-economic survey and consultations held within the village around the same time last year. The findings also of the biological survey conducted earlier in the year were also reported to the participants.
With collaboration of partners from the Nadroga/Navosa and Ba Provincial office, Department of Fisheries, Department of Environment, FLAMMA, Reef Explorer, Tikina o Vuda Yaubula Committee, Treasure Island Resort, WWF and the Fiji Environmental Law Association, much light was shed on issues regarding the importance of turtle conservation, fishing licenses, leadership and management and clarifying provisions of the Turtle Moratorium under the Fisheries Act. The Tikina o Vuda Yaubula committee and Votua Yaubula Committee were part of the workshop to share with the participants their success stories and various conservation tools used in the management of their respective natural resources.
The awareness workshop created a platform for networking and positive discussions amongst participants and facilitators on environment and natural resources and how to best manage them. The majority of participants were the youths, which was an added boost to the workshop, as this held promise for future environment leaders and advocates for the proper management of natural resources. Another highlight of the workshop was the tag and release of a hawksbill turtle from Solevu village to mark the opening of the Tikina Malolo Sea Turtle Conservation Workshop. The hawksbill turtle was under the care of the marine staff at the Mana turtle pond for more than year, which was brought in as a hatchling from Namotu Island, after it was found crawling back into the resort. The hawksbill was given the name Adi Roro after the Roro reef in Malolo; she was 25cm in carapace length on the day of her release. Adi Roro was released by chief guest Tevita Volavola who also had earlier opened the workshop for tikina Malolo.
Also part of the awareness workshop was an information session with school students currently on school break in Solevu and Yanuya village..
After the first two days of workshop in Solevu village, the facilitators on their way to Yanuya stopped over at Mana Island to visit the Turtle Recovery pond on the island. The Turtle Recovery Pond on Mana is a rehabilitation program for sea turtles that have been found washed up on the beach, sick or injured. The sea turtles are kept in the pond till they are fit enough to return to the wild. At the end of the first day of workshop in Yanuya, facilitators also had the opportunity to visit famed Monuriki Island, an uninhabited nesting site and home to the Endangered Fiji Crested Iguanas.
Adi Makelesi Tavaiqia, chairperson of the Tikina Vuda Yaubula Committee commented on the success of the workshop and shared the Tikina o Vuda Yaubula committee’s interest in further partnerships and workshops of this kind in the region.
“Thank you for the opportunity to come over and it was very interesting and motivating to learn about the work you all are doing for the benefit of Turtle Conservation in Fiji. The scenarios topped off the trip for me even though I was there for only a short time” said Ilaitia Tamata of WWF.
Through the Mamanuca Sea Turtle conservation project, this awareness workshop was achieved as part of the projects awareness components and buildup to the upcoming Biological Survey in October. This project is funded by the United Nations Development Program – GEF Small Grants Program. MES would like to thank our, sponsors including Frezco Beverages, Castaway Island Resort and Tokoriki Island Resort for providing bottled water for the duration of the workshop, South Sea Cruises and Malolo island Resort for providing island transfers and also our partners for their valuable contribution during the workshop and a successful week of turtle conservation awareness in the Mamanuca group of islands.