SOLOMON Island’s first ever national conservation initiative has been declared as The Arnavon Community Marine Park (ACMP).
Located between Isabel and Choiseul province, the Arnavon islands is the country’s first protected area to be under three communities – Katupika, Wagina and Kia.
The event was organised by The Nature Conservation (TNC) and convened officials from the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Fisheries, leaders of provincial government, chiefs and community members.
After TNC’s 22 years of conserving marine resources, a new level is reached for marine conservation under National Act of 2010 which sees Arnavon Island now officially a protected area, effective as of May 10.
The Minister for Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, Samuel Manetoali, in his keynote address, said Arnavon is the country’s first official designated protected area in Solomon Islands.
He said it was registered and gazetted on May 10, 2017 under category one, Nature Reserve as most important rockery for Hawksbill turtle in the western Pacific, covering 169.09 square Kilometres.
Hon Manetoali said the ACMP will remain as the country’s model which can be adopted to other conservation sites in Solomon Islands under Protected Area Act 2010.
“I want to assure you that my Ministry is committed to oversee implementation of ACMP as mandated under Protected Areas Act 2010, and establish and operationalized Protected Areas Trust Fund,” Mr Manatoali said.
He adds this purposely to support development of protected areas in Solomon Islands and to sustainably support ACMP and its stakeholders in regards to managing conservation plans.
The TNC Country Director, Mr Willie Atu, said Arnavon Island is an example of peace building and good governance, and a place which creates opportunities to try new ideas.
“I want to say when tugging turtle, satellite shows they passes through Islands across the country, so it means if conservation office here protected and other communities killed them it means our works go wasted.
“This work helps us to bridge idea of conservation not only to Arnavon but Solomon Islands and abroad, that is what it means, so protected area that is declared gives us opportunity to the world.”
Meanwhile, the declaration ceremony was celebrated under the theme: “Celebrating Community Leadership, Partnership and Sustainable Stewardship”.
It day was also graced with authentic cultural entertainments from Katupika, Wagina and Kia communities.