Making contacts and surveying in Kavieng
25 August 2008
On Monday morning we came back from Lissenung Island to Kavieng to get back in touch with the provincial fisheries staff and the local NGO's.
We were very luck to have an opportunity to be shown around a small scale biodiesel plant. The biodiesel is produced from coconut oil and this project is funded by the provincial fisheries department to create a market for the copra as well as a cheap fuel for the fishermen. We saw a couple of five horse powered Chinese outboard motors running on the biodiesel. Chris will bring back some to test on Magic Roundabout when the boat goes back to New Zealand. Due to frequent fluctuations in copra prices and the high cost of diesel in the remote islands biodiesel is something that OceansWatch needs to have a very good understanding of the process of turning coconut oil into biodiesel.
During our shopping trip to the local market we met with Chief Masulem from Enuk Island who invited us to come back next year to train the locals in ReefCheck surveying. He even kindly offered to build us a hut on his grounds the next year so that we could stay at his village.
Sunday was started with a 50 m ReefCheck transect in the near-boiling-point waters on the sheltered side of Lissenung Island. The area is not legally protected however the owners of the nearby resort and staff look out that no one fishes or extracts any shells from the site. The reef is therefore in a quite good condition and among other species we encountered a moray eel, a lot of parrot fish and a crown of thorns lurking under a small table coral. We didn't detect any bleached corals, however speaking to the owner of the dive resort we learnt that there have been coral bleaching outbreaks before but so far the corals have always managed to fully recover.
We spent most of Saturday doing some last-minute interviews for the video Rachael is doing on OceansWatch. As a special treat to everyone and a farewell to Rachael we had some drink in the late afternoon on the boat. After 6 weeks on Magic Roundabout's trip through Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea Rachael left on Sunday morning. Rachael's commitment and enthusiasm has been key throughout this trip and we are all looking forward to watching the final OceansWatch video. We would like to thank Rachael as well as wish her the best for the next trip around Fiji and Tonga. We do nevertheless miss her bubbly craziness, so Rachael come back!!!! ;-)
Friday morning we went ashore to be met by the local tribes treasurer Graham Chen who was congregating the community by means of banging a log drum. After a tour through the island and the village and a half an hour stay at the church house due to the sudden onset of torrential rains the local fishermen, women and children from the nearby school gathered under the 'meeting tree' to hear Chris' presentation on OceansWatch and ReefCheck. Chris talk was highly welcome and during a Q&A round after it we learned more about the local fishermen's concerns such as what to do with crown of thorns outbreaks and the consequences of climate change for coral reef communities. During a conversation with the treasurer after the meeting we found out about the change in the weather patterns they have observed during the last decade and how this has affected their traditional cultivation and fishing activities.
In the evening we moved the boat to a more safe anchorage next to Lissenung Island, a small island with a small resort on it specialised on diving.