Update from Chris
16 July 2009 | Rennel Island
All is going really well in Rennell. We met with the Hatana conservation acommitteee and other local community leaders on day 2 here and they were really keen to look at ways of conserving their marine resources. Straight after we presented to them they formed a larger tribal conservation committee that covers about 2.5 miles of foreshore. They agreed in that meeting that they should look at the possibility of establishing an MPA.
We did a rapid assessment of their reef area, mainly looking at % hard coral and suggested 3 possible MPA sites. I met with the committe leader today and showed him the areas that we selected. He was very happy for us to recommend the area we thought most suitable for the MPA and what clinched it I think was that at one end of the area there was a section of cliff that looked like a face, watching over the MPA. It seemed appropriate so he said he would be happy to chose that area.
Now this decision needs to be ratified by his committee (he says it will be no problem as they are all keen). We will now try to get some reef check surveys done in the proposed MPA and outside it too. It's hard though as the reef face is mainly vertical walls and isolated bommies.
I now want to help the community to look for ways of mitigating the loss of fishing area. I think there could be ways for them to increase food production as they only really seem to grow Casava. We need a good organic tropical vegetable grower/advisor to spend a few months here with a variety of seeds to try.
This afternoon I visited the 19 pupil primary school. They could really do with some help too and are keen to join the schools program. We will survey for the next 2 days then visit the World Heritage lake if we can find some transport.