Field trips and community discussions underway to protect dugongs in Solomon Islands

August 22, 2016

SB4 Project Update: Jan thru June 2016

A five-member field team comprised of SICCP, Roviana Conservation Foundation (RCF) and Tetepare Descendants Association (TDA) staff undertook an introductory and scoping trip to West Parara Island in April 2016. While at West Parara, the team conducted SeagrassWatch training with representatives from communities residing along the north-western coastline of Parara. This was the first community-focused training delivered by SICCP through the project. The training was mostly attended by women.

During the three-day field trip, survey sites were established and a tentative plan was put in place for these sites to be surveyed twice a year by a team of trained volunteers. During this exercise, eight different seagrass species were identified.

While conducting the training, SICCP staff became aware of the presence of dugongs and seagrass in neighbouring Rarumana, located on Vonavona island.

Following this, a scoping visit was undertaken to meet with community elders at Rarumana to see if they would be interested in partaking in SB4. The Rarumana lagoon has wide-spread seagrass beds and is home to several dugongs. It was decided at this meeting that SICCP and RCF should return in July 2016 and discuss the project with the broader community of Rarumana.

During the month of May, an introductory trip was undertaken to the North of Kolombangara to survey seagrass sites and conduct a seagrass identification training – SICCP, TDA and KIBCA staff provided SeagrassWatch trainings.

While on site, the team also facilitated discussions on the formation of a Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) committee that would be in charge of plans to formalise the establishment of a LMMA that would include seagrass and other coastal habitats that are frequented by the resident turtle and dugong populations.

A follow-up LMMA meeting was proposed for August 2016. A scoping trip to the Marovo Lagoon was also carried out to identify potential seagrass sites at Chubikopu and Akara-Takuti Communities. During this scoping trip, questions regarding the importance of seagrass meadows and the life history of dugongs were highlighted during the village discussions.