Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
The global site for cruising sailors
Sections
You are here: Home / Countries / Vanuatu / Vanuatu: Year-end report from OceansWatch

Vanuatu: Year-end report from OceansWatch

By OceansWatch — last modified Dec 13, 2013 02:51 PM
The main focus for the OceansWatch Vanuatu team this year was to establish ongoing relationships with communities interested in the long-term wellbeing of their marine ecosystems.

Published: 2013-12-13 00:00:00
Topics: Environment
Countries: Vanuatu

Vanuatu: Year-end report from OceansWatch

Reef Guardian Training: © OceansWatch

The crew onboard Catknapp sailed north to Espiritu Santo and then onto the Banks Islands, in the remote Torba province, where OceansWatch had been invited to visit communities on the islands of Vanualava, Mota Lava and Rah.

Espiritu Santo

At Port Olry, the largest village on the island of Epsiritu Santo, the OceansWatch team continued with the monitoring work of the Community Conservation areas started by last years OceansWatch team.  The reef check surveys and Reef Guardian assessments showed that the three conservation areas are continuing their recovery from over fishing and storm damage. However, a potential Crown of Thorns starfish threat was also identified, with several adults and juveniles recorded as well as recent scaring from COT predation. This potential threat will need to be monitored carefully and a response plan put in place in case of a serious outbreak.

OceansWatch will be working with a consortium of scientists, government departments, local tourism operators and communities to develop a nation wide protocol for responding to the Crown of Thorns issue currently threatening the reefs of Vanuatu. OceansWatch member yachts could play a vital role in this initiative next year. More information will be available early in the New Year so watch this space.

If you are thinking of cruising in the Vanuatu area and are interested in helping on this project please get in touch with OceansWatch directly so they can keep you informed.

OceansWatch was also asked to help with the establishment of a coral gardening project being initiated by the principal of the local primary School. He was looking for ways to get the children involved in marine conservation in a practical way. Aside from providing research material OceansWatch were able to offer technical advice and help with appropriate site selection. A low-tech approach was essential so they helped design a simple system for attaching the coral fragments to the substrate so that the children themselves can become the coral gardeners. Through the generous donations of masks and snorkels from Paihia Dive in Paihia, Bay of Islands and Global Dive in Westhaven, Auckland, OceansWatch were also able to provide the school with six sets of snorkelling equipment.

Banks Islands

In the Banks Islands OceansWatch were invited to the tiny island of Rah to assess their marine conservation area, which has been in place since 2010. The OceansWatch team worked with the Rah Conservation Committee headed by Chief Noah. They are very proactive in responding to the depletion of their marine resources, having initiated a total ban on gill nets around the entire island. However, they were concerned that their conservation area didn’t seem to be working and asked OceansWatch to help.

It was clear from the assessment that the conservation area was simply too small to be effective so OceansWatch recommended that it be increased in size and extended further out to sea to include the important deeper reefs. The conservation committee took the recommendations to the community and the consensus decision was to increase the conservation area to more than double its original size. Ongoing work on Rah will include monitoring the progress of the conservation area, sea grass surveys, reef ecology education and introducing the OceansWatch reef Guardian program.

The island of Motalava has 5 marine conservation areas but little or no monitoring has occurred there and there appears to be poaching problems in at least 2 of these areas. OceansWatch only had time to do an initial assessment of two of the areas including mapping the boundaries. There is a strong interest from the communities in improving the effectiveness of the conservation areas and they have asked OceansWatch to return next year to help them. They will be working closely with the Vanuatu Red Cross who has several land-based projects happening on Motalava.

The island of Vaualava is the largest island in the Banks group and is very mountainous. Many of the villages are very isolated and most people lead subsistence livelihoods. OceansWatch worked with two such communities in 2013, Vatop and Tevetwot. In Vatop the main income source is from lobster fishing, but the demand for lobsters from Port Vila has seen the fishery overexploited and catch numbers have plummeted. OceansWatch worked with the fishermen and landowners in Vatop to help them set up a lobster management area. They provided information on lobster biology and reef ecology which helped them decide on the size of the management area, catch restrictions and closed seasons. OceansWatch also provided Reef Guardian training to help them monitor the area.

Tevetwot is a new community, only established in 2010, but already they have noticed a decline in the abundance of some species on their local reef. The community were very keen to address this decline so OceansWatch were able to help them set up a tabu (conservation) area and train some of them as Reef Guardians. This community is very reliant on their reefs and are very motivated to maintain healthy reef systems for future generations.

Malekula

On their way back to Port Vila OceansWatch revisited South West Bay on the island of Malekula. OceansWatch has previously worked with the village of Labo and this year again spent time in this most picturesque of villages, giving reef ecology presentations, surveying their conservation area and running a Reef Guardian training.

They also re-mapped the boundaries of the Labo community conservation area as well as an adjacent area that the local landowners wanted to protect.

In the neighbouring village of Lawa Chief Raubong asked OceansWatch to survey their reef and recommend an area to set up a conservation area.

Conclusion

Overall OceansWatch achieved their goal of establishing ongoing relationships with communities and identifying areas where OceansWatch can be of most benefit. They also achieved practical outcomes for communities and laid the groundwork for what will be a very busy and exciting, 2014 project season in Vanuatu.

To find out more about OceansWatch and how you can volunteer for one of their projects go to http://www.oceanswatch.org/

Related content
Port Vila
Share |
Countries
Albania
Algeria
American Samoa
Angola
Anguilla
Antarctica
Antigua & Barbuda
Argentina
Aruba
Ascension Island
Australia
Azores
BIOT (Chagos)
Bahamas
Bahrain
Barbados
Belgium
Belize
Bermuda
Bonaire
Bosnia
Bouvetoya
Brazil
British Virgin Islands
Brunei
Bulgaria
Cambodia
Canada
Canary Islands
Cape Verdes
Cayman Islands
Channel Islands
Chile
China
Christmas Island
Cocos Keeling
Colombia
Comoros
Cook Islands
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cuba
Curacao
Cyprus
Denmark
Djibouti
Dominica
Dominican Republic
East Timor (Timor Leste)
Easter Island
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Eritrea
Estonia
Falkland Islands
Faroe Islands
Federated States of Micronesia
Fiji
Finland
France
French Guiana
French Polynesia
French Subantarctic Territory
Galapagos
Gambia
Georgia
Germany
Gibraltar
Greece
Greenland
Grenada
Guadeloupe
Guam
Guatemala
Guinea-Bissau
Guyana
Haiti
Hawaii
Heard, McDonald & Macquarie Islands
Honduras
Hong Kong
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Ivory Coast
Jamaica
Japan
Jordan
Juan Fernandez Islands
Kenya
Kiribati
Kuwait
Latvia
Lebanon
Libya
Lithuania
Macau
Madagascar
Madeira
Malaysia
Maldives
Malta
Marion & Prince Edward Island
Marshall Islands
Martinique
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mayotte
Mexico
Monaco
Montenegro
Montserrat
Morocco
Mozambique
Myanmar (Burma)
Namibia
Nauru
Netherlands
New Caledonia
New Zealand
New Zealand's Subantarctic Islands
Nicaragua
Niue
Norfolk Island
Northern Marianas
Norway
Oman
Palau (Belau)
Panama
Papua New Guinea
Peru
Philippines
Pitcairn Island
Poland
Portugal
Puerto Rico
Qatar
Reunion Island
Romania
Russia
Saba
Samoa
Sao Tome and Principe
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Singapore
Sint Maarten
Slovenia
Solomon Islands
Somalia
South Africa
South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands
South Korea
Spain
Spanish Virgin Islands
Sri Lanka
St Barts
St Helena
St Kitts & Nevis
St Lucia
St Martin
St Pierre & Miquelon
St Vincent & the Grenadines
Statia
Subantarctic & Southern Ocean Islands
Sudan
Suriname
Sweden
Syria
Taiwan
Tanzania
Thailand
Tokelau
Tonga
Trinidad & Tobago
Tristan da Cunha
Tunisia
Turkey
Turks & Caicos
Tuvalu
US Virgin Islands
USA
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
Uruguay
Vanuatu
Venezuela
Vietnam
Wallis and Futuna
Yemen
Add/Update Your Business
If you would like your business to be listed, or the details are wrong, please update your business
Platinum Sponsors