Dear members, partners, supporters, and friends of the Coral Sea Foundation,
Welcome to our October 2020 newsletter! On behalf of our Directors, I hope that this message finds you and your families safe and well. Here is a summary of what we have been up to over the last few months.
The Coral Sea Foundation has Sea Women of Melanesia program graduates in four locations in Papua New Guinea (Port Moresby, Alotau, Ferguson Island, and Kimbe) and two locations in Solomon Islands (Munda and Tetepare Island). The Foundation Directors have been financially supporting and mentoring these teams of women so they could continue to meet our marine conservation objectives, which revolve around delivering humanitarian aid (clean water, medical, educational) to our partner communities, monitoring reef condition, and supporting the community momentum for creation of new Locally Managed Marine Reserve Areas (LMMA’s) to help meet the global target of 30% marine reserves by 2030.
Program Outcomes – Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea
SWoM Milne Bay team leader Martha Eimba has been working with two other local women to drive our community engagement and LMMA survey activities in the province. Actions have been underway at Ginewa, Cape Orawa, Sewa Bay (Normanby Island), and in the Nua Marine Reserve Network at Ferguson Island.
Despite a long run of wet and windy weather in the Milne Bay province this year, the women have made excellent progress, with two expeditions to Sewa Bay to support the Sibonai community on the 3 LMMA areas proposed for the Bay, and several trips to Ginewa for community meetings and aid delivery. Many thanks to the good people at Solutions 4 Health for their ongoing support of our communities with medicinal Oil of Oregano, a natural antibiotic and health tonic.
Lorie Pipiga, our SWoM team leader at Ferguson Island, has made two trips by longboat back into Alotau town to obtain supplies to support the development of the Nua Marine Reserve Network. The Foundation has funded materials for marine reserve signage at the Nua reserve sites, and we were able to get another significant delivery of medical aid into the area.
The communities have now elected their LMMA Management committee and the LMMA Management Plan is well advanced. The incredible Nua reefs have remained unbleached and Lorie and other team members have been conducting regular monitoring surveys and anti-poaching patrols.
Program outcomes - Kimbe, PNG
Naomi Longa, the Sea Women of Melanesia program Director, is at home on her clan lands at Kimbe, in West New Britain Province. She has conducted three reef survey expeditions in Stetin Bay over that time, collecting over 500 geo-tagged digital images on an inshore-offshore transect covering 10km. Reefs were generally in good condition although overfished. Coral cover was best on the offshore sites as expected, and there was no evidence of recent bleaching damage.
Medical aid has been delivered to Kimbe Hospital, where Naomi’s elder sister is a Doctor in the paediatric ward, and additional field survey equipment has allowed Naomi to commence further Sea Women training programs in the area. Two training programs have been delivered to date, helping another 6 young women on their path to becoming marine conservation advocates.
Program outcomes - Port Moresby
The Coral Sea Foundation has appointed UPNG biology graduate Evangelista Apelis as Port Moresby SWoM team leader, to facilitate engagement and training of women attending UPNG for studies of biological science or environmental management. We now have more than 25 women that have joined the SWoM program in Port Moresby. Our scientific Directors have prepared an online teaching curriculum and provided a laptop and the digital resources to Evangelista so that she can assist the women in their reef ecology and reef monitoring studies. The women are three weeks into an expected 8-week online study program.
Through our partnerships with the PNG Center for Locally Managed Areas, and the reef restoration NGO Hiri Coral, our Sea Women trainees will assist communities adjacent to the Bootless Bay National Marine Sanctuary with their reef surveys and LMMA applications.
Program Outcomes - Solomon Islands
During our November 2019 training expedition to Solomon Islands, we equipped our SWoM trainees at Munda and at Tetepare Island with a digital reef survey kit and the necessary dive gear to continue marine reserve monitoring work. This year we have mentored the Solomon Islands women through the expedition planning process and provided them with the funds to complete their own reef surveys and community engagement meetings. Working together with our program partners at Dive Munda (vessel and gear providers), our Sea Women teams have completed a comprehensive survey Haipe Reef near Rendova Island, with over 90 geo-tagged images collected.
During September 2020, Dive Munda initiated a program to train young Solomon Islanders to scuba dive, and the Coral Sea Foundation sponsored another 4 late teenage women to complete their dive training as part of this program.
Our Sea Women team from Tetepare has planned and completed two survey expeditions to the island in the last three months. Images were collected from our long-term monitoring sites on the north-west side of the island, and we are pleased to report coral condition and fish abundance was excellent.
The Coral Sea Foundation team will be taking part in the Great Reef Census later this month, in support of this initiative by our partners at Citizens of The Great Barrier Reef. We will be tracking over 330km from Magnetic Island to Cairns aboard MV Kalinda and surveying several high-priority outer-shelf reefs on the way.
We are very fortunate to have Dr Tony and Dr Avril Ayling from Sea Research joining us on the expedition, along with CSF Directors Dr Dani Ceccarelli and Dr Cristiana Damiano. The reefs on our target list are rarely visited and are likely to have some world-class dive sites, so the whole team is super excited to combine research and exploration in this important part of our own backyard. This trip will lay the foundation for development of our new Great Barrier Reef eco-diving expeditions and we look forward to offering our members the opportunity to join our team on one of these voyages in the near future.
The Coral Sea Foundation receives no government support - all our work is funded by our fantastic network of partner organisations and eco-conscious individuals like yourself, and we couldn’t do it without you – so thank you very much!
I particularly want to acknowledge the significant support provided by the Jock Clough Marine Foundation, the Unico Conservation Foundation, and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation in 2020. The backing of these organisations has been tremendously helpful in keeping our programs running and expanding across Melanesia this year, and we are exceptionally fortunate to have them on our side.
Whether you are a regular donor or a new supporter, please consider a small donation to keep the Coral Sea Foundation’s vital reef conservation work and community aid programs going through this year and into 2021. Our Donation Portal is here, and we are grateful for all support, no matter how small. We also have the capacity to accept tax-deductible donations from both Australian and USA donors, so please contact us for more information if you would like to support in that way.
On behalf of the whole Coral Sea Foundation team, thanks for your support, stay safe, and please message us with any questions or queries you have – we love to hear from you!
Dr Andy Lewis