Success Story: Taking Care of Her ReefsCatch of the Week
Local heroine spreads the word about Marine Protected Areas.
Saying that Nuatali Veniiy is passionate about marine conservation is like saying fish protein plays a role in the diet of the Solomon Islanders—it’s a vast understatement.
She’s a true believer in the paramount importance of the reefs and the life they support. Like her mother before her, Nuatali, from Pusinau Village on Ghizo Island, is responsible under customary tenure for the reef near her family’s land. She takes this responsibility very seriously and is keen to create one of the first Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in the Solomon Islands with support from USAID’s Coral Triangle Support Partnership (CTSP) under the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) and its National Coordinating Committee.
Traditionally, customary tenure in the Solomons has included stewardship of the land and marine resources. Temporary fishing closures declared by chiefs and elders were respected, and the reefs were managed for optimal fish production. After Nuatali took over from her mother in 1999, however, she recognized that things were changing along the coast. The sustainable management practiced by her mother and ancestors, based on a deep knowledge of and love for the reefs, was less effective. “Customary tenure is based on respect”, she said, “and young people need to learn more about and respect our marine resources.”
Nuatali benefited from a series of CTSP-sponsored coastal management activities and workshops, learning everything she could about climate change and integrated coastal management. She and her two sons, both fishermen, use this new information and do their best to guard the reef against sea cucumber poachers, while looking for a more permanent solution.
Nuatali and others from local communities went on a CTSP field trip to a long-established marine conservation area on Arnavon Island in the western Solomons, and she was convinced that protected area status for the reefs on Ghizo was the answer she had been seeking for long-term protection. She has been working for it ever since.
Nuatali became a leader in the formation of the Ghizo Environmental Livelihood Conservation Association (GELCA), for which she now acts as vice-chairperson. This community-based association provides the local people with legal status under the new national Protected Areas Act to create a marine protected area for her community. She now has the tools to help inform and guide her community to sustainably manage their fisheries and marine resources.
For Nuatali, reefs are a sea paradise. Her eyes light up and emotion tinges her voice when she talks about her reefs, and her determination and energy shine through as she shares this love with everyone around her. Nuatali’s actions are directly contributing towards her country’s implementation of their Coral Triangle Initiative National Plan of Action.
WWF, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International and WorldFish are implementing partners of CTSP and the USCTI Support Program in the Solomon Islands.
This feature is part of the document Outreach: Success Stories from the Solomon Islands produced under the US Coral Triangle Support Program. For more details, read Final Report: Lessons from the US Coral Triangle Support Program.